The Salmon Arm Silverbacks dug deep to pull one win out of a challenging home double-header against the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The puck dropped for the first of two games at the Shaw Centre on Friday, Nov. 1. The first goal of the game went to the Silverbacks as Holden Knights rushed the Smokies’ net from the right wing and then slipped the puck to Dominic Garozzo who slapped it in from the left.
Trail didn’t take the opening goal lying down, scoring one of their own less than a minute later. The tie held until the final seconds of the first when the Smoke Eaters added two more to their tally in quick succession giving them a 3-1 lead heading into the dressing rooms for the first intermission.
The Silverbacks came out strong once again and it payed off just before the second frame was halfway over. Daniel Rybarik dumped the puck in and jumped on a bounce before firing a shot by Trail goaltender Logan Terness. Rybarik’s 13th goal of the season put him behind only Trail’s Kent Johnson on the BCHL’s 2019 top scorers.
As the Silverbacks’ Coalson Wolford sat out a slashing penalty, Trail’s Tyler Ghirardosi made it a two-goal game again with seven minutes left in the second. The ‘Backs replied with a goal from Drew Bennett half a minute later.
The scoring frenzy continued with an unassisted tally from Trail’s Walker Erickson, but before the period was over Bennett struck again to leave the score 5-4 Trail as the game entered the third period.
The teams kept up the suspense for the fans through the third frame and into the game’s final seconds. The Silverbacks pelted Terness with 13 shots in the third. With only two seconds remaining, Nick Unruh was granted a penalty shot but could not solve Trail’s man between the pipes.
As the final buzzer sounded, a scrum broke out between the teams which concluded with the officials dealing game misconduct penalties to Powell Connor and Phillipe Lapointe from Trail and William Poirier and Noah Wakeford of the Silverbacks. The final score was 5-4 Smoke Eaters, leaving the Silverbacks to rally for the following night’s game against the now familiar adversaries.
The Silverbacks were the first to score again in the opening period of Saturday night’s game. Nick Martino got the assist from Knights and Akito Hirose to give the ‘Backs the lead nine minutes into the game.
The Smokies could not answer in the first frame, but in the second they managed a power-play goal off the stick of Lapointe. Both the third period and a period of sudden-death overtime passed without either team able to score again, so the game went to a shootout.
Ethan Langenegger, who was already well on his way to first star honours, successfully turned away Owen Ozar, the first Trail shooter. Nick Unruh scored for the ’Backs and then Langenegger stopped a shot from Johnson. William Poirier had a chance to win the game for the Silverbacks; the left-handed forward skated down the right side before deftly sniping a shot through the five-hole for the win.
The weekend’s mixed results leave the Silverbacks in a dead heat with the Penticton Vees for second place in the BCHL and only a point behind the Coquitlam Express who are in first place.
-With files from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.