Salmon Arm, B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks (16-4-1) host the Merritt Centennials (4-14-0) for the first time this season on Friday night at the Shaw Centre.
It’s the first of six head-to-head meetings and the beginning of a home-and-home, as the Backs travel to Merritt on Saturday. The Interior Division rivals will also face off in a home-and-home Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, plus play one another on Feb. 15 and 23.
Tonight’s game has the usual 7 p.m. puck drop.
1) Teams in Opposite Directions
It’s clearly been a tough season so far for the Centennials, who have won four of their 18 games thus far, after finishing in second place in the division with 36 wins just a season ago. The Cents have lost four straight and are 2-9 in their last 11 games, while the Silverbacks are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Merritt also has just one win on the road, while the Silverbacks have 10 wins on home ice, the second-most in the BCHL.
2) Familiar Faces
The Silverbacks will be facing off against a couple former teammates on Friday: defenceman Olson Werenka and forward Wyatt Marlow.
Werenka played 50 games last season for the Backs, while Marlow played in 36, plus four the season before.
3) Opportunity for Power Play to Get Back on Track
The Silverbacks power play had countless opportunities to convert in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win over the Trail Smoke Eaters, but ultimately finished the night 0-for-6. It also went 0-for-2 on Friday.
With the Centennials ranking last in the BCHL in penalty killing at 66.7%, the Backs have a good chance to get their PP back over 20% on the season.
Players to Watch
SILVERBACKS: DREW BENNETT
The Newfoundland native had his first multi-goal performance last weekend against the Trail Smoke Eaters and now has six points on the season. All four of his goals this year have come at even-strength.
After one goal in his first 15 games, the hard-working rookie has three in his last six.
CENTENNIALS: JOSH KAGAN
Kagan was traded from the Cowichan Valley Capitals to the Cents earlier this season and has put up strong numbers in both places.
He had four goals and seven points in seven games for the Caps and now has eight goals and 11 points in 12 games for Merritt. All eight of his goals on his new team have come at even-strength.
Akito Hirose: 2 points from 100 career BCHL points. Also 3 games from 175 career BCHL games.
Nick Unruh: 4 assists from 50 career BCHL assists.
Noah Wakeford: 1 goal from 25 career BCHL goals.
Current Point Streaks
Akito Hirose: 9 games (14A)
Nick Martino: 4 games (2G, 3A)