Silverbacks’ forward Jack Sampson skids to a stop, coming face-to-face with Smoke Eaters’ defenceman Kyle Budvarson during the Jan. 26 game at the Shaw Centre. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Silverbacks break even in double-header against Trail Smoke Eaters

Affiliate players shine in game one, rematch goes south in first period

Missing seven players from their regular lineup hasn’t slowed the Silverbacks’ stride, as they chalked up their third straight win with a depleted bench during their Friday night game against the Trail Smoke Eaters.

During the first, the game was stuck at a scoreless stalemate, though Trail came danger-close to taking an early lead on a right-wing breakaway that was set to slip right by Ethan Langenegger before Andy Stevens stopped it on the goal line. Salmon Arm made a close call near the end of the period, but a shot from affiliate player Brendan Pigeon dinged off the crossbar and out of the net.

Related: Silverbacks’ captain, coach talk about the pre-playoff push

Coming into the second, the Silverbacks inched out a lead off a play that saw two affiliate skaters earn their first point in the BCHL. Ethan Schaffer stole a Trail pass and turned it around, sending the puck to Nikolas Sombrowski who scored his first BCHL goal in his fifth game.

The game was brought back to 1-1 later in the period, as Tyler Ghirardosi of the Smoke Eaters popped one into the Silverbacks’ net on a power play. The stalemate wouldn’t hold for long, however, as just two minutes later Trevor Adams made a push with Brendan Pigeon and Nick Unruh to put the ‘Backs up 2-1.

Related: Silverbacks defeat Coquitlam Express in shootout victory

Twenty seconds into the final period, Silverbacks’ leading scorer Matthew Verboon would score the game-winner after receiving a slick pass from Aiden Jenner. John Little also picked up an assist on this goal, leaving him with the second-longest points streak in the BCHL at 14 straight games.

Hayden Rowan of the Smoke Eaters would score one more for Trail, but the final 15 minutes of the game were scoreless on either side, granting the Silverbacks a 3-2 win over the Smoke Eaters.

Related: Silverbacks make back-to-back wins over Warriors

The ‘Backs returned to the ice in Trail Saturday, Feb. 9 for the second game of their double-header against the Smoke Eaters, but this second game would be a rough go for Salmon Arm.

In the first period alone, six goals slipped past the Silverbacks’ net, putting them in an extremely tough position as they struggled to match a huge lead. Tyler Ghirardosi and Max Kryski scored once apiece, with Mack Byers and Braeden Tuck each making two goals.

Early in the second, Matthew Verboon would get Salmon Arm’s first goal, but things turned the other way once more as Trail scored twice in quick succession. The middle period was stuffed with penalties for the Silverbacks, leaving them shorthanded and skating against a full line. Verboon snagged a second point before the period ended, but Trail would reply with an additional two goals to hit the 1o-goal mark before the third.

In the final period, Trail eased off their scoring and Verboon would slip one past the Smoke Eaters’ goal for a third time to earn the hat-trick. It was a mixed-bag of a game as the team struggled against fearsome offensive pressure and a frustrating second period, though Verboon showed focus under pressure to claim three points.

The Silverbacks face the Chilliwack Chiefs next on Feb. 13, before their final tough run of games against two top teams: Wenatchee and Penticton.


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