Salmon Arm, B.C. — Last Saturday’s 7-1 loss for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (8-2-1) at the hands of the Coquitlam Express is long gone in the minds of both players and staff.
Tonight is their first chance to make up for last weekend’s showing and they’ll have to earn it, going up against a Chilliwack Chiefs team that is 6-0-1 in their last seven games (8-4-1 on the season).
This is the first of two head-to-head meetings this season. The next meeting (in Chilliwack) won’t be until Feb. 19, the third-last game of the regular season. The Chiefs are coming off a 2-0 win over the Vernon Vipers on Wednesday.
Tonight’s game has the usual 7 p.m. puck drop.
1) Gotta Come Out Flying
The Silverbacks start will clearly be key tonight, simply not only because of last game’s result, but also because they allowed three goals in the first 6:46 of that game.
Every time the Backs have taken a lead into the first intermission, they’ve won the game. Likewise, their only regulation losses have come when they’re trailing after the opening period.
Not so for the Chiefs, who are actually 2-1-0 when trailing after the first.
2) Special Teams
The Chiefs carry the league’s third-best power play at 25.4%. The Backs were operating at 25% through their first five games (6-for-24), but have been only half as good over their past six games (4-for-31 or 12.9%).
On the PK side of things, the Chiefs have struggled this year at just 75.9%, the fifth-worst in the BCHL.
While the Backs are better at 83.9% (8th), they’ve also struggled as of late, having allowed two power play goals in a single game three of their last five contests. They began the year going perfect on the PK in three straight games. They’ve only done that once since (Tuesday, Oct. 1 vs. the West Kelowna Warriors).
3) Chiefs Youth Excelling
One stat that jumps out with Chilliwack is this: five of their top six scorers are rookies (the sixth may not be a rookie but is also 17-year-old Ethan Bowen). The Chiefs actually only have one 20-year-old on the entire team. Clearly, it’s a youth movement in Chilliwack this season, and that youth has proven they can score in bunches (six times this season the team has scored five or more goals).
Players to Watch
SILVERBACKS: HOLDEN KNIGHTS
Last Saturday, it was pretty clear the Backs weren’t at their best, but Knights had three solid chances in the first period, including a semi-breakaway after he used his speed to blare down the right wing. He also nearly had his first career goal, but the bouncing puck after a rebound just wouldn’t settle down for him.
Knights always engages physically, but he also seems due for a goal sooner rather than later.
CHIEFS: ETHAN BOWEN
Despite being just 17, Bowen not only leads his team in scoring with 16 points already, but he was also listed as a ‘C’ prospect by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming Entry Draft earlier this week.
The Chilliwack native already has a season of BCHL hockey under his belt, where he recorded 39 points in 58 regular season games and then added four more in 11 playoff games. The North Dakota commit has nine points so far in the month of October, in just five games.
Akito Hirose: 4 assists from 75 career BCHL assists
William Porier: 2 points from 100 career junior points (including CHL)