Salmon Arm, BC – For the third time on the season it was a Highway 97 battle as the West Kelowna Warriors (21-11-4-0) paid their first visit into the Shaw Centre to take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (18-14-3-1). The two teams had met twice earlier in the season with both games taking place in West Kelowna. The Warriors had the upper hand in the first two as they won both, and outscored the ‘Backs 12-4. The Silverbacks came into the game winners of their last two, while the Warriors were hoping to bounce back following a 3-1 setback last night to the Cranbrook Bucks.
It was a battle of BCHL All-Stars in between the pipes as Matthew Tovell (14-12-2-1, 2.68 GAA, .923 S%, 4 SO) got the nod for the ‘Backs, while Justin Katz (10-3-1-0, 3.52 GAA, .889 S)
The Silverbacks seemed to enjoy the early noise from their home crowd as they applied the early pressure on the Warriors. Justin Katz was the difference maker in the early going as he turned aside the onslaught of pressure from the Silverbacks as he steered aside ten shots in the first few moments. The opening goal came against the flow of the game as the Warriors were able to strike first with Ben Macdonald (15) potting one home to open the scoring. The ‘Backs continued to apply pressure in the later stages of the period, but were not able to beat Katz. The Warriors earned a late powerplay in the period as Tristan Allen went to the box for interference, but the ‘Backs were able to kill it off and continue to stay hot on the penalty kill. Shots in the first were 20-9 in favor of the Silverbacks.
The momentum continued into the second period for the Silverbacks as they were able to funnel the puck towards the Warriors net in quick order. The puck luck started to turn in the middle frame as midway through the period it was CJ Foley (3) lifting one from the blueline high and over the shoulder of Katz to get things evened up at one a piece. The second half of the period was penalty filled as both sides had opportunities on the man advantage, but it was the ‘Backs taking advantage. Both Hayden Stavroff (7), and Ethan Ullrick (16) added powerplay goals late in the period to give the ‘Backs a two goal cushion. Shots in the period favored Salmon Arm by a 17-6 margin.
Period number three saw a much different pace to which we saw in the first two periods as the Silverbacks were looking to hang onto their two goal cushion. The Warriors looked poised to change the fortune of the game as they directed multiple shots towards Matthew Tovell, but he stayed sharp to help backbone the ‘Backs. West Kelowna was able to outshoot Salmon Arm 13-7 in the final frame, but the only goal in the period was an empty net marker from Brandon Santa Juana (10). Salmon Arm was able to coast home to a 4-1 victory over the Warriors.
Next up for the Silverbacks will be a Saturday night clash in Salmon Arm. The ‘Backs will welcome the Wenatchee Wild into town next Saturday night at 6:00PM.
Photo courtesy of Chris Fowler