Daniel Panetta and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks will play the Wenatchee Wild in the first round of the 2022 B.C. Hockey League playoffs. Salmon Arm fell 4-1 to the Spruce Kings in Prince George Saturday, March 19, and will close out the regular season at home Saturday, March 26, against Trail. (Chris Fowler Photo)

Daniel Panetta and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks will play the Wenatchee Wild in the first round of the 2022 B.C. Hockey League playoffs. Salmon Arm fell 4-1 to the Spruce Kings in Prince George Saturday, March 19, and will close out the regular season at home Saturday, March 26, against Trail. (Chris Fowler Photo)

Spruce Kings slip past Salmon Arm Silverbacks

BCHL: Prince George gains split of weekend home-and-home with ‘Backs

BLAKE FRIARS

SALMON ARM SILVERBACKS

Austin Fraser’s second-period powerplay goal stood as the eventual game-winner as the Prince George Spruce Kings defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 in B.C. Hockey League action Saturday, March 20, in the province’s northern capital.

The two teams split a weekend series in PG.

In the first period, it was a similar start to Friday night – fast-paced with not many whistles early on. The Spruce Kings, like the night before, opened the scoring, as Simon Labelle was the benefactor of a bounce in front that went right on his tape, as he beat Silverbacks goaltender Owen Say blocker-side for his 11th of the season.

Moments later, a fight broke out. Brandon Santa Juana and Amran Bhabra were mixing it up behind the play, and they decided to dance. Both Santa Juana and Bhabra landed some rights in the fight, with Bhabra eventually getting the takedown.

The Silverbacks then got a powerplay opportunity as Nick Rheaume slew-footed Kieran Ruscheinski, but couldn’t get set up on the man advantage. Noah Serdachny was called for hooking, taking the Silverbacks off the powerplay.

Just 21 seconds after the Serdachny penalty, Rowan Miller high-sticked Silverbacks Defenceman Mike Ladyman resulting in a rare 4-on-3 powerplay chance. The Backs had some good looks but couldn’t convert.

The Spruce Kings got a powerplay of their own and made the Silverbacks pay. Captain Kolton Cousins made a cross-seam pass to a streaking Fraser, and he beat Say for his 13th of the year, extending the lead to 2-0. The Backs were outshot 12-4 in the opening 20 minutes

The second period was the best period of the night for Salmon Arm. Most of the period was spent in the attacking zone, as the line of Mathieu Cobetto-Roy, Simon Tassy, and Serdachny had multiple shifts with extended zone time. It was that line getting the Silverbacks on the board. Ladyman created some space at the top of the point with a nice spin move, and he moved to the left point, and Serdachny tipped his point shot home. The goal was his 26th of the campaign.

The Silverbacks nearly tied it shortly after as Zack Smith had a chance at the side of the goal but was stopped by the glove of Spruce Kings goalie Aaron Trotter. The Backs outshot the Spruce Kings 14-12 in the middle frame.

In the third period, the game was there for the taking, as the Silverbacks only trailed by a goal heading into it.

The period began with the Spruce Kings doubling the lead, as Cousins tipped home a Dylan Schives point shot extending the lead to 3-1. The Spruce Kings added to their lead 2:04 later as Labelle entered the offensive zone and was able to put it past Say low blocker side giving the home team a 4-1 lead.

Say finished the game with 30 saves while Trotter stopped 28 in what was Prince George’s regular season finale. The Spruce Kings (27-15-4-8) will finish fourth in the Interior Conference and will play either the Cranbrook Bucks or the Vernon Vipers in the first round of the conference playoffs.

Salmon Arm (36-11-4-2) plays its final regular season game Saturday, March 26, at home against the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Silverbacks will finish second and play the Wenatchee Wild in the opening round of the playoffs.

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