Salmon Arm Silverbacks goaltender Liam Vanderkooi stopped 28 of 30 shots in a 4-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Dec. 29, 2021. (Chris Fowler/Salmon Arm Silverbacks photo)

Salmon Arm Silverbacks goaltender Liam Vanderkooi stopped 28 of 30 shots in a 4-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Dec. 29, 2021. (Chris Fowler/Salmon Arm Silverbacks photo)

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defeat Merritt Centennials 4-2, move into 1st place in BCHL

Silverbacks the first team in the B.C. Hockey League to reach 20 wins

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks doubled up on the Merritt Centennials in Dec. 29 British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) action.

Salmon Arm forward Simon Tassy had a goal and two assists, while goaltender Liam Vanderkooi stopped 28 of 30 shots to lead the ‘Backs to a 4-2 victory over the Cents in Merritt.

Both teams’ goalies were stellar in the first period and the game was scoreless after 20 minutes despite a number of good scoring chances.

In the second period, the Silverbacks had a stroke of luck when defenceman Lucas Matta took a shot that bounced off multiple players before going into the net. The goal was his seventh of the season. Later in the period on a power play, Tassy fed a pass to Brandon Santa Juana, who scored and doubled the ‘Backs’ lead.

Shortly after, the Centennials countered with a goal of their own. But before the frame was over, Tassy deked out the Centennials goalie for his league-leading fifth shorthanded goal, making the score 3-1 Silverbacks.

Early in the third period, the Centennials made it 3-2 with a quick shot that beat Vanderkooi. Halfway through the final frame, Salmon Arm responded when Daniel Panetta scored on a shot just under the cross bar. The score would remain 4-2 as Vanderkooi finished the game strong.

The win puts the Silverbacks in first place in the BCHL; they’re the first team to get 20 wins. The ’Backs hit the ice again on Saturday, Jan. 1, when they ring in the new year against the Vernon Vipers at 2 p.m. in Vernon.

With files from Blake Friars, contributor

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Salmon Arm Silverbacks