Silverbacks’ forward Justin Wilson keeps his eyes up for a passing lane as he skates the puck into the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ zone during their Dec. 15 game. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Silverbacks ready to get in Vipers’ face in playoffs

Salmon Arm coach, forward talk round one of BCHL playoffs against Vernon

Heading into round one of the BCHL playoffs against their local rivals the Vernon Vipers, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks are looking to keep their composure and let their performance on the ice speak for itself.

“I think most important for our group is to stick to our game plan and worry about what is going on in our room,” says coach Tanner Cochrane. “For the first time since our trade deadline we are going to be healthy and not missing players, and through that I think our group showed a lot of resilience.”

Silverbacks’ forward Justin Wilson’s final season in the BCHL is wrapping up with the playoffs, and he says this series against Vernon is a nice way to get the action started.

Read More: Silverbacks finish regular season with loss to Penticton

“We are feeling pretty confident going into playoffs, we like the way we match up against Vernon and I think it’s going to be a good series,” Wilson says. “They definitely have a good group of forwards and their defensive core is pretty solid too. We will just have to play our game, play down low against their defence and get some quick transitions going.”

The Silverbacks put up a 5-1 record against Vernon in the regular season, including a pair of overtime wins. Cochrane points out, however, that it’s risky to make assumptions based off of those stats.

“I see a lot of positives for our group heading into the playoffs, but you have to look past the regular season success we had against Vernon because everyone starts at 0-0 here,” Cochrane says. “We have come up with a specific game plan for a seven-game series against them. It’s the first time in a season where you will see one team over an extended period of time so you can key in on their tactics.”

Heading into game one, which kicks off Friday, March 1 in Vernon, Wilson says a little bit of nerves are inevitable, but the team works to shake them off and not dwell on it.

“There is always going to be nerves going into the playoffs, these are big games and you have to be ready for them, but once you start playing those nerves go away. We just have to keep our schedule the same, we hockey players are creatures of habit. The more of a big deal you make of something, the more it kind of hangs around your head,” Wilson says.

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

Against the Vipers, Cochrane feels it is going to be key to keep Vernon on the back-foot and not let them gain ground on offence.

“Playing in Vernon’s end is going to be key. The matchup line-to-line is really close, their strengths is they are very competitive, they play hard. They are going to be in your face and try and play it like a street fight, and we are ready for that,” Cochrane says. “It’s going to come down to staying on track every game, finding ways to control what you can and not try and force the game.”


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Silverbacks’ forward Justin Wilson cuts left to get around Kings’ defender Ryan Puliot during their Jan. 12 in Salmon Arm. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

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