A pair of losses last weekend dropped the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to the bottom of a three-team deadlock that has major implications on the playoff picture as the regular season enters its final week.
The ‘Backs sit in fifth place in the BCHL Interior Division. The fourth place Vernon Vipers also have 61 points, but they have one more win than the Silverbacks. The third place Wenatchee Wild are only three points ahead of the ‘Backs and Vipers and have one less game remaining on their schedule. All three teams have clinched a playoff spot, and the third-place berth is a possible outcome for each.
The Salmon Arm squad lost to the Merritt Centennials on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Merritt. After a scoreless first period, the visitors found the back of the net thanks to a shorthanded effort from William Poirier early in the second frame. The ‘Cents evened the score towards the end of the second frame leaving it anyone’s game heading into the final 20 minutes.
The Silverbacks ran into some penalty trouble early in the third and the Centennials’ Evan Benwell capitalized with a power-play goal to give the home team their first lead. Noah Wakeford potted one on the power play to restore the tie but two Merritt goals in the final minutes wrapped up a 4-2 win for the home team.
The following night, back in their own barn, the Silverbacks took on the Wild. A slow start defensively proved decisive as thes’Backs lost 4-1 with neither team able to score in the second or third periods. The Wild put up two goals early in the period and then another with three minutes left to play in the period. Seconds after Wenatchee’s third goal, the Silverbacks’ Simon Tassy got his team on the board.
Matt Dorsey scored a fourth goal for the Wild with just over a minute to play.
Two more losses are in the books for the ‘Backs, but opportunity to improve their playoff fate knocks with each opening face off of the season’s final week. The Silverbacks are gearing up for a midweek road trip to play the Chilliwack Chiefs on Feb. 19. The Chiefs’ 25-30 record is good for second in the mainland division which has been dominated by the 45-10 Coquitlam Express. After the weekend’s losses, the ‘Backs sit at 28-27 in the fiercely-contested Interior.
Much of the final week of the BCHL season will be spent on the bus as the Silverbacks have a game scheduled in Trail two days after their trip to Chilliwack. They will finish their regular season with a Sunday, Feb. 23 home game – another crack at the Centennials before the playoffs begin.