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GAME 1: Isaac Lambert notches the winner, ‘Backs take down Spruce Kings 2-1

Salmon Arm, BC – The 2022/23 BCHL Post-season kicked off on Friday night in Salmon Arm as the Silverbacks and Spruce Kings kicked off their best-of-seven series at the Shaw Centre. The two teams were familiar foes in the regular season as they had met seven times including five of which took place over the final six weeks of the regular season. It was the first playoff meeting between the two squads since all of the way back in 2007/08, and the fourth time in the franchises history.

Matthew Tovell (23-18-3-0, 2.66 GAA, .919 S%, 4SO) got the start for the Silverbacks, while Jordan Fairlie (20-14-3-0, 2.96 GAA, .891 S%, 3SO) got the nod for the Spruce Kings.

The opening period of play was almost exactly what was expected in Salmon Arm as the Silverbacks and Spruce Kings continued their rivalry in the opening twenty minutes of play. The physical side of play was prominent between the two sides as they both were trying to impose their will on each other as the game progressed. Prince George got themselves into some penalty trouble midway through the opening frame as Amran Bhabra and John Herrington both went to the box which gave the Silverbacks two chances to strike first. The difference maker in the period was Jordan Fairlie as he made several incredible saves to keep the game at a standstill. The highlight of the period came in the final stages as Hayden Stavroff followed up on a rebound from a rush play with Nathan Mackie to which looked like it would be a definite goal, but Fairlie was able to flash the leather in desperation mode to keep the puck out. Neither team was able to strike in the period, shots in the opening frame were 15-5 in favour of Salmon Arm.

Period number two started off with a parade to the penalty box as the two teams combined for six penalty minutes in the opening six minutes of play. Salmon Arm was able to strike first as their powerplay clicked on a four-on-three sequence when Ethan Ullrick (1) lifted one high and over the shoulder of Fairlie to open the scoring just over seven minutes into the period. The Spruce Kings were able to turn the tide on the momentum as the period progressed. It was John Herrington (1) getting things knotted up with a shot from the slot to beat Matthew Tovell with just over five minutes to go in the period. The late stages saw Salmon Arm head to the penalty kill as Liam Steele and Lynden Hanvold went to the box which brought the Silverbacks penalty kill unit to the table. It was a successful sequence for their group as they made several big clears. Things ended tied up at one a piece after forty. Shots in the middle frame were 15-13 in favour of Prince George.

Period number three saw Salmon Arm get out to a quick start as they looked to restore their lead that they lost in the middle frame. CJ Foley let one fly from the blue-line before it found the stick of Isaac Lambert (1) as he deflected one by Fairlie to give Salmon Arm a lead. The rest of the period saw Prince George looking to claw back into the contest as they fired a slew of shots towards the net of Matthew Tovell, but he continued to stay sharp in between the pipes. CJ Foley went to the box with five minutes to go in the period which gave Prince George their third powerplay of the game. Salmon Arm was once again able to come out on top of the kill lead by a great penalty kill shift from Maddux Martin. The Spruce Kings pulled the goalie for the extra attacker with just over a minute and a half to go in the period but were unable to knot things up.

Next up will be game two of the best-of-seven series which takes tomorrow night at the Shaw Centre. Puck drops at 6:00PM and all kids 15 and under will get in free thanks to our friends at Stella-Jones!

Photo by CHRIS FOWLER – Recap Courtesy of TONY TROZZO