The Salmon Arm Silverbacks have some good news to announce as they head into a pair of home games this weekend against the Merritt Centennials and the Wenatchee Wild.
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.
Verboon, a dual-citizen hailing from Switzerland, won a European league championship last year and played with Team Switzerland at the U18 World Championships. This season he 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.
Coming into their first home game of the weekend against the Merritt Centennials, the Silverbacks’ skaters are feeling confident they can keep up their hot streak on home-ice, where they have won six in a row at home – all the while struggling against injuries that were depleting the roster.
“It has been going really good; obviously we have dealt with a decent amount of injuries but everyone has been pulling their weight and it’s great to see everyone is contributing every night,” says goaltender Ethan Langenegger. “Obviously it’s tough with injuries, but we have been battling through it pretty well and getting some points and that’s the most important thing.”
“We have been playing together as a team really well, not just individual stuff,” adds defenceman Olson Werenka. “Our whole team is coming together quite well and everyone contributes and does their job on the ice.”
Part of the synergy the team has developed is helped along by the players’ off-ice bonding and the friendships they have formed.
“It’s definitely the closest team I have been on in terms of off the ice, the guys are always hanging out and being together. I think that helps a lot – on the ice it is a huge benefit to us. Everyone is willing to work together,” Werenka says.
Langenegger has been a rock in the net for much of this season, posting up between the pipes in 16 of the team’s 22 games. While he now has some help with the addition of Matthew Armitage, the rookie goaltender has proven to be a reliable last line of defence, taking a certain thrill from the pressures of his position.
“I definitely like the pressure, it’s good. Obviously it’s a different position compared to the rest of the team, but it’s just something I have gotten used to. I have played goal for a long time; it’s different than everyone else, you get to play the whole game which not a lot of people get to do,” Langenegger says. “Our D-men have been playing really good lately, getting sticks in lane and lots of shot blocks. That’s something I have noticed with this team, we definitely block a lot of shots, which is huge for me.”
Werenka, in his rookie year in the BCHL as well, has also been shining lately – most recently book-ending a game against the Vernon Vipers, scoring the first goal and following it up in overtime for the win.
“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 four goals and eight assists to his name so far 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.