After claiming three out of a possible four points over the weekend, the Silverbacks remain near the top of the Interior Division standings.
“Our maturity in the locker room has been a huge difference maker so far, and our preparations for each game gives us the belief we can go out and win any game,” said Silverbacks captain Phil Middleton.
On Friday evening against the Wenatchee Wild, the league’s newest club, the ’Backs settled for a 4-4 tie, before toppling Trail 5-2 on Saturday.
“Overall the weekend went well, we got the ‘W’ tonight (Saturday) and three out of the four points in total and that’s what matters,” said Middleton.
The Wild opened the scoring in the first frame, holding on to their one-goal lead until Nick Hutchison equalized midway through the second.
Hutchison put home the rebound after Jared Turcotte was denied by Wenatchee’s Chase Perry on a breakaway.
Colton Thibault gave the ’Backs the lead on the penalty kill a short time later as he scored five-hole on a breakaway, thanks to a fortunate bounce from a clearance attempt off of a Wild defenceman.
“Wenatchee play a very similar style game as us, it was like playing against ourselves out there,” said Middleton, after the game.
August Van Ungern scored his second of the night, knotting the game at two, before Hirose scored a Datsyuk-esque highlight reel goal, his first of the season.
On the penalty kill, Hirose stripped the puck from a Wild defenceman behind the Wenatchee net, then shielded the puck as he walked out front and buried the puck in the top corner on the backhand, past the glove of Perry.
“It definitely felt great to get the monkey off my back, I was struggling to find the back of the net, but hopefully the goals will start to come in bunches, now” said last year’s leading scorer.
A relentless forecheck and strong physical play in the corners kept the Wild on their heels for most of the third, then an untimely turnover in front of Angus Redmond led to a Wenatchee goal.
Brett Stewart scored from the blue-line and soon after Wenatchee equalized again, forcing overtime. Both teams traded quality scoring chances, but were unable to break the deadlock thanks to their goaltenders.
“If we would have had kept our composure with the puck in our zone we probably would have had two points,” said ’Backs head coach Brandon West.
On Saturday night the Silverbacks raced out to a commanding 4-0 lead before the midway point in the game. Banking on previously established chemistry from playing in Penticton together, West put Newsome and Laframboise on a line together with the speedy Blanchard hoping it would pay off.
The forward line started off the scoring for the ’Backs and maintained the momentum throughout the game.
“Our line was buzzing tonight, we have a sense of familiarity playing together and that makes a big difference on the ice,” said Laframboise.
Blanchard opened the scoring courtesy of Laframboise and Newsome, before returning the favour to Laframboise only 28 seconds later for his first of the year.
“Getting my first of the season was great, it gave not only me but my linemates a boost of momentum in the game,” said the Regina native. Marcus Mitchell and Ross Heidt added their names to the score sheet, before Trail struck twice.
Hutchison scored into an empty net, his second in as many nights icing the game. Although the ’Backs won, West was critical of the game and expressed the need to limit unnecessary penalties and defensive zone blunders.
“We spent a lot of energy last night really trying to push the pace and I think that had an effect on us tonight. That being said, I am pleased with the effort put forward this weekend,” said West.
The Silverbacks now turn the focus towards division rivals Merritt this evening at the Shaw Centre.
“They won’t be pushovers, we have to be willing to work and put in a full 60 minutes,” said Middleton.