During last weekend’s home games, the Silverbacks’ win streak in the Shaw Centre came to a halt as two of the league’s top teams visited Salmon Arm.
The first period of the Nov. 16 game against Merritt was a back and forth contest that seemed to favour neither team. Merritt’s Christian Sabin scored the first goal seven minutes in. The Silverbacks made a number of good scoring chances and shots on goal were fairly even.
Heading into the second period, it appeared to be a stalemate for the first ten minutes until the goals started piling up – on both sides – swinging the game in both directions over the course of just three minutes.
Merrit’s Nick Granowicz started it off just after 11 minutes with a shorthanded goal. Silverbacks’ forward Trevor Adams put the team on the scoreboard with an assist from Matthew Verboon, and Tyson Gayfer followed that up just 25 seconds later off the assist from Adams and Sol Seibel.
The game sat at a 2-2 tie for a mere 90 seconds, before Nick Granowicz of the Centennials came in for his second goal of the game at the 14 minute mark, which would turn out to be a decisive goal.
The remainder of the second and the entirety of the third were scoreless on both sides, though Salmon Arm pressed the attack in the third, doubling Merrit’s shots on goal.
The following night, Nov. 17, the Silverbacks faced last season’s playoff champions, the Wenatchee Wild, for the first time this season. While things were close up until the last period, the Wild took a runaway lead in the third.
In the first, both teams put one up on the scoreboard, grappling with each other for possession up and down the ice the whole time. Wenatchee’s AJ Hodges scored the first of the game at eight minutes, and Silverbacks’ defenceman Olson Werenka scored one for Salmon Arm at 16 minutes off the assist from Matthew Verboon and Trevor Adams.
Werenka, in his rookie year in the BCHL , has been shining lately – recently landing an overtime goal against the Vernon Vipers.
“It felt unreal, nothing better than scoring an OT winner, it’s the best feeling in hockey,” he says.
The defenceman says he put in a lot of work on his offence in the off-season, and with five goals this season it seems that work is paying dividends.
“In the past I wasn’t the biggest goal-scorer, I kind of struggled with putting up points and stuff when I was younger. I have definitely progressed and worked on my offensive skills, this past summer I worked really hard on it and it has definitely shown, and it’s something I am proud of,” Werenka says.
In the second period, Wenatchee’s Josh Arnold inched out a one-goal lead over the Silverbacks, but otherwise the period was a quiet one.
In the third, however, the Wild picked up momentum and piled up goals one after another. They scored their first under a minute into the period, two more before the ten minute mark and another two in the back half of the period. What was a close game right up to the third turned into a landslide victory for Wenatchee.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks announced some good news ahead of the pair of home games on the weekend.
Matthew Verboon, who leads the team in points and power-play goals during his first season with the Silverbacks, has committed to join the Colgate University Raiders hockey team.
“I’m so happy to have joined the Raiders family. I think their prestigious school along with a great hockey team were the perfect match for me, both on and off the ice,” Verboon says.
This season Verboon has been one of the most consistent players on the Silverbacks’ bench, never going more than two games without a point.
“We are very excited to hear that Matthew has committed to Colgate University. We feel this is a great fit athletically and academically for both Matt and Colgate,” said Silverbacks’ GM and head coach Scott Atkinson.