Home-ice advantage paid off for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks as they earned wins in the opening two games of their B.C. Hockey League playoff series against the Victoria Grizzlies, 2-1 and 4-0.
The series’ opening face-off was on Friday, Feb. 28 at the Shaw Centre. After back and forth play with neither team able to score for most of the first period, the Grizzlies managed were the first on the scoreboard. Alex DiPaolo capitalized on a play set up by Marty Westhaver and Henri Schreifels. The Grizzlies 1-0 held up through the rest of the first frame.
The second period also got off to a slow start, going scoreless until Jeremy Gervais evened the game up for the Silverbacks assisted by Jarrod Semchuk and Antonio Andreozzi. Gervais’ was the only goal of the second frame leaving the game tied heading into the final 20 minutes.
Both teams had a pair of power-play chances to break the third-period tie but their penalty kill units held strong. Just seconds after the game returned to five-on-five at the end of a high-sticking penalty charged to William Poirier the Silverbacks scored again. Luke Mylymok sunk that goal that would prove to be the game-winner with only five minutes left to play. The ‘Backs held on for the slim 2-1 victory.
The teams faced off again the following night. After a scoreless first period, the Silverbacks skaters got to work in the second. Goals from Mylymok, Daniel Rybarik and Drew Bennett. With a commanding three-goal lead heading into the third period the ‘Backs were in great shape. The home team didn’t give the visitors an inch keeping them off the scoreboard and scoring another goal from Bennett. Ethan Langenegger made 31 saves to pick up the shutout.
The Silverbacks will be heading to Victoria with a two-game lead in hand to play the Grizzlies again on March 2 and 3. If the ‘Backs don’t pull off the sweep, the series will return to the Shaw Centre on March 5.
The winner of the ‘Backs and Grizzlies series will take on the team that emerges from the Wenatchee Wild Vs. Vernon Vipers series in the second round. Vernon earned a 3-0 shutout in Wenatchee’s rink in that series’ first game on Feb. 29.