The Silverbacks skated out onto the ice in a reserved and respectful manner as they started their 2015/16 season with a moment of silence for Hallie Grace Bolduc, the daughter of Silverbacks forward Carson Bolduc and his girlfriend Kierra Lentz.
At just one week old, Hallie was diagnosed with an enterovirus that attacked her heart, she put up a tough fight but sadly after three weeks she died.
“The moment of silence was really touching, it’s great to see the support I have from the team and community,” said a humble Bolduc after the game.
Following the sombre ceremony, there was no lack of intensity once the puck was dropped, as the ’Backs entertained the more than 1,700 fans with an impressive 4-2 win over the defending Fred Page Cup champions, Penticton Vees.
“There was lots of emotion tonight with the moment of silence for Hallie before the game. We’re a family and we played for our teammate (Bolduc) tonight,” said Brandon West, head coach of the Silverbacks.
The last time the Silverbacks won a home opener was five years ago to the day, back when the Shaw Centre was known as the Sunwave Centre.
Four-year veteran, Angus Redmond started the game sharp, shutting down the Vees captain Tyson Jost on two occasions early in the first period.
“Angus played the way we expect him to play, like a veteran,” said West of the game’s first star.
After some free-flowing play, the ’Backs hemmed the Vees in their zone and the West Corina, Calif. native Elijiah Barriga opened the scoring in the game.
“I found myself in the slot with lots of time and space, Josh(Laframboise) made a great pass and I was able to put it home from there,” said a broadly smiling Barriga.
The 19-year-old import chipped in his second of the game on a short-handed two-on-one rush with Nick Hutchison early in the second.
“It’s an unreal feeling, I never thought I would score two in my first game,” said Barriga. Vees rookie Easton Brodzinski cut the visitors defect in half, but 31 seconds after, saw it cancelled out by Josh Blanchard’s first of the season. And Ross Heidt scored just before the end of the middle frame.
Colton Thibault was a constant physical presence, racking up a large number of bone crushing hits that blew the roof off the Shaw Centre.
“Colton was great, his play really inspired the team tonight,” said West.
Again, Brodzinski scored to half the lead, but that is as close as the Vees would get.
Overall, West said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“There is no question that our team likes to play offence, but in order to keep the momentum going we need to clean up a few defensive mistakes before heading to Merritt.”
The Silverbacks next home game will see them play host to the Coquitlam Express on Saturday at 7 p.m., and return to the arena the following day at 3 p.m. to play Chilliwack.