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Forward Depth on Display as Backs Down Cents 6-2

Salmon Arm, B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ four-goal second period propelled them to a 6-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Shaw Centre.

Six different forwards found the back of the net in the victory, while the team’s power play went 2-for-4. Captain Akito Hirose knocked off two milestones at the same time, recording his 100th career assist in his 200th career BCHL game.

Salmon Arm’s record now stands at 25-20-4, still one point behind the Vernon for third place in the Interior Division. The Wenatchee Wild are in fifth place, four points behind Salmon Arm.

GAME SUMMARY

Although the Silverbacks came out flying right off the hop, one early mistake lead to the visitors scoring first. While shorthanded, Cents forward Payton Matsui stole the puck at his own blue line and raced all the way down the ice, before converting through the five hole on a breakaway to make it 1-0 just 1:45 into the contest.

Salmon Arm generated plenty of quality chances during the remainder of their four-minute power play, but couldn’t beat Ryan Winter — at least not yet. Things changed 12:04 into the period, after Tony Andreozzi’s point shot was redirected off of Nick Unruh right to William Poirier in front, who made no mistake by banging in his 16th of the season.

The floodgates opened to start the second period, beginning with a Drew Bennett deflection goal just 15 seconds in. Hirose notched his 100th career assist on the goal, after he went D-to-D to Jeremy Gervais, whose low shot was redirected past Winter by Bennett for his 10th of the year.

The Cents responded just 1:27 later, thanks to Matsui’s second tally of the game, after he spun around in the slot and fired one off a skate and past Grant Adams.

Salmon Arm re-took the lead just 1:23 after Matsui’s goal off the stick of Lucas Breault. Luke Mylymok led a 3-on-2 rush down the right side into the zone and passed across to Drew Bennett, who in turn swiped the puck in front for Breault, whose redirection was stopped but his rebound was not, converting on his seventh goal in 18 games.

Just over three minutes later, Daniel Rybarik tapped home his 27th of the year on a pass from Mylymok during a power play to make it a 4-2 game.

At the 12:39 mark of the second period, Salmon Arm increased their lead to 5-2 thanks to Mylymok, who rifled home a shot from the right face-off dot for his third point of the evening.

After 40 minutes of play, the score was 5-2 and the shots 42-15 for Salmon Arm.

There was only one goal scored in the final frame, as Logan Shaw got in on the action, redirecting his seventh of the season past Winter with 1:26 remaining to put the icing on the cake.

For the full boxscore, click here.

THEY SAID IT

Assistant coach Carter Cochrane:

“It was by no means a perfect game, but I definitely thought the intensity was there for the most part the entire game. I thought we were rolling all four lines and all three ‘D’ pairs were creating as much as they could when they were out there. At times, our defensive play got a little sloppy, but we only gave up three chances in the first two periods and something like seven overall, so you can’t get too nit-picky. There’s definitely things we want to clean up and want to make sure we’re sharp on heading into tomorrow and the rest of the season. So while we’re happy with the win tonight, we’re by no means satisfied.”

TOP PERFORMERS

Akito Hirose — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Playing in his 200th career regular season game, Hirose recorded his 100th career BCHL assist. Now at 120 points, Hirose is tied for ninth in franchise scoring amongst all skaters. He is one point behind his brother Taro, who finished his Silverback career with 121 points.

Cochrane on Hirose: “I think those numbers obviously tell a big story. The longevity he’s had here and the ability to play 200 games is incredible. It’s a reason he’s a leader on the team, it’s a reason he wears the ‘C’ — just everything he’s been through in his career here. It’s a little bit full circle, I played with Akito when he was a rookie in the league and now to be coaching him, it’s extremely cool to see how far he’s come and the development he’s had. I think the numbers are awesome,  but it’s more of what he’s done for the organization and the community. His billet family would attest to how close they are with him and his involvement in the community as well. He’s someone who has ingrained himself in the Salmon Arm community. You could hear the fan support for him when they were making the announcements throughout the game and it’s extremely cool to be apart of moments like that.”

Luke Mylymok — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Mylymok’s three-point night gives him 12 points in 19 games, but also nine points (5G, 4A) in his last eight games.

Cochrane on Mylymok’s performance: “Mylymok carried the play at all times tonight — 5-on-5, on the power play…He’s a guy that we really think is breaking out for us right now and I think this is just the start of it for him. We’re only going to continue to see him getting better and better as the games go on and as he keeps getting more comfortable. There’s not a lot of bad things to say about him.”

Tony Andreozzi — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Andreozzi had two assists on the night and nearly had his first goal since November as well.

“He gets two points tonight just from being simple, working the blue line in the offensive zone. He gets a quick shot through on the first goal and then working the blue line with Sansbury on the last one. It’s just a guy who’s paying attention to details. Understanding what is going to make him successful. He’s been due for a while to get back on the scoresheet — an offensive guy, so it was really good to see him do that.”

For the full boxscore, click here.

STAT OF THE GAME

Three Silverback Goals in Under Six Minutes: Bennett, Breault and Rybarik all scored under six minutes apart to start the second period, which is when the game really shifted.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Silverbacks wrap up their home-and-home with the Centennials in Merritt on Saturday night, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.

Next week, Salmon Arm plays two road games: in Langley on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and in Penticton on Friday, Feb. 7.

All games can be heard on 91.5 EZ Rock with the pre-game shows starting half an hour before puck drop. Fans can also stream the game on HockeyTV.