Venue: Shaw Centre, Salmon Arm
Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: Oct 3rd 5-1 Vees, Oct 4th 4-3 (OT) Vees, Oct 26th 3-1 Vees, Dec 12th 2-2 T, Jan 3rd at SA, Jan 28th at PEN, Feb 28th at PEN
Vees Road Record: 14-3-1-1
Vees Record vs. Interior: 18-4-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-18-35
Silverbacks Home Record: 7-7-2-2
Silverbacks Record vs. Interior: 10-8-1-3
Silverbacks Leading Scorer: Andrew Farny 11-27-38
Looking for Four: The Vees go for their fourth straight win tonight when they pay a visit to the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. They picked up their third consecutive win last night, blanking the Vernon Vipers 3-0 at the SOEC. Demico Hannoun, Steen Cooper and Gabe Bast scored in the win and Hunter Miska stopped all 30 shots he faced for his league-best fourth shutout.
The Vees are also looking for their fourth win in five games against the Silverbacks. The Vees are 3-0-1-0 against Salmon Arm this season and haven’t lost a game at the Shaw Centre. They picked up a 4-3 double-overtime win on October 4th and a 3-1 win on October 26th at the “Cable Box.” The two teams tied 2-2 when they last met on December 12th and that too was in Salmon Arm.
Though the Silverbacks have yet to beat the Vees, three of the four games between the two teams have been decided by one goal (if you exclude empty-net goals). All three games in Salmon Arm have been tight, as they’ve gone to double-overtime in two of the three. The only lopsided score in this season series was a 5-1 win for the Vees in their home opener on October 3rd.
After tonight the season series shifts to Penticton for the final two games on January 28th and the regular season finale on February 28th.
The ‘Backs are Rolling: Salmon Arm hasn’t dropped a single point since last playing the Vees, as they’ve won four straight and are undefeated in five. Salmon has picked up a pair of wins over Trail and singles against Merritt and West Kelowna.
The ‘Backs throttled the Warriors last night at home, picking up a 7-1 win. Defenseman Andrew Farny led the way offensively, as he netted a hat-trick and finished with five points in the win; decent. Farny leads the ‘Backs in assists (37) and points (38) and is only second to Alberni Valley’s Kurt Gosselin in the BCHL defensemen scoring race.
It hasn’t just been Farny, as the ‘Backs are getting contributions from upfront as well. Carson Bolduc and Taro Hirose are each riding four-game point streaks coming into tonight’s action. Bolduc has four goals in seven points in four games and Hirose has two goals and five points. Ross Heidt has provided some depth scoring too, as he has three goals and four points in as many games. Two-way forward Colton Thibault has stepped it up offensively, as he has three goals and six points in his last five.
They’re getting it done in their own end too, specifically in goal. Angus Redmond has found his groove, as the second-year puck-stopper is 3-0-1-0 in his last four starts, sporting a .934 save-percentage in those four games.
When the Vees last played the Silverbacks they were a game under the .500 mark and a minus 10 goal differential. Fast-forward three weeks and the ‘Backs are a game over the .500 mark and now have a plus three goal differential. Coming into Saturday’s slate of games, the ‘Backs are now six points back of Merritt for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior but they have a game in hand.
Which Special Teams will be “Special?” Cliché to say who wins the special teams battle will likely win the game but it seems to hold weight when these two teams get together. The ‘Backs sport the league’s third-best power-play and have the best power-play at home (30 %). The Vees have the league’s second-best penalty-kill both overall and on the road. So, it’s the league’s best home power-play going up against the league’s second-best road penalty-kill.
In their last meeting on December 12th, the ‘Backs did score a power-play goal midway through the second to cut the Vees lead in half and it seemed to give them some momentum, as the ‘Backs came back from a 2-0 deficit to force OT.
The Vees coaching staff will be stressing five-on-five play and not letting the ‘Backs produce on the power-play; make them earn their offense at even strength. 27 percent of the ‘Backs offense has come from their power-play, and of their 32 power-play goals, 18 have been scored at home; that’s over half.
Line-Up News: Looks like the Vees will dress 12 forwards and seven defensemen for warm-up and make a decision on their line-up before puck drop. All signs point to Hunter Miska getting the start in net tonight and he’s 2-0-1-0 against the ‘Backs while owning a sparkling .935 save-percentage. He’s undefeated in his last seven starts (5-0-2-0) and has a 1.50 goals-against average and a .948 save-percentage during that run.
The ‘Backs have been dealing with some significant injuries all season but did get some good news when Taylor Maruya returned to the line-up Friday; his first game since November 14th. Shane Danyluk hasn’t played since December 13th and Logan Mick was put on the 15-day IR today with a lower-body injury.
Broadcast Info: Listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800, starting with the pre-game show at 6:40pm; Trevor Miller and myself will have the call. Fans can watch a pay-per-view webcast at www.fasthockey.com