Salmon Arm, B.C. — It’s the first meeting of the season between the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (7-1-1) and Wentachee Wild (5-1-1-1), a game that will take place on neutral territory at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton for the BCHL Festival Showcase presented by Bauer.
Friday’s game has an early start with 1 p.m. puck drop and is the first of seven meetings this season between the Interior Division foes.
The Backs enter following a dominant 6-1 win on Tuesday over the West Kelowna Warriors, while the Wild lost in overtime on Saturday night in Merritt to the Centennials 2-1. With 12 combined wins so far in this early BCHL season, this is a marquee matchup for sure.
Last season, the Wild got the better of the Backs in six head-to-head matches, going 5-1 (the Backs went 1-4-1).
1) Silverbacks Offensive Depth
The Silverbacks enter action with four skaters in the top-20 in league scoring, all with 11 or more points, while the Wild have just one player with more than seven points so far this season.
In the Backs 6-1 win on Tuesday, 13 different players recorded at least one point and each of the four lines contributed at least one goal. It will surely be more difficult to reproduce those results against a stingier defence, as the Wild have allowed an average of just 27.8 shots against so far this season. Still, the fact that Salmon Arm has shown they can get offence from up and down their lineup could be a key.
2) Hirose Feeling It
Silverbacks captain Akito Hirose has eight points (1G, 7A) in his last five games, including a three-assist performance on Tuesday. He is the only defenceman in the BCHL with 10 or more even-strength points.
The Minnesota State Mankato commit is one of the most creative players in the league, particularly at the offensive blue line, where he often makes opposing wingers look silly with his pucks skills. Even when he doesn’t record a point, he impacts the game in all situations.
3) New Wenatchee Wild Faces
Just ahead of last weekend’s action, forward Harrison Scott committed to the Wild organization. The San Jose, CA native played three seasons at Lake Forest Academy in the U.S. high school prep circuit, where he and Backs goalie Dylan Kruss were teammates. Scott was the captain last season and led the team in scoring with 55 points in 41 games.
Also joining the wild is former Everett Silvertip, Seattle Thunderbird and Moose Jaw Warrior Luke Ormsby. The 20-year-old winger won a WHL championship with the Thunderbirds in 2016-17 and recorded 20 points in 65 WHL games last season split between Everett and Moose Jaw.
Players to Watch
SILVERBACKS: NOAH WAKEFORD
The 5-foot-8 winger leads the BCHL with 16 points in nine games and also has three goals in his last two games. That includes a two-goal performance Tuesday and a two-point outing last Saturday against the Coquitlam Express. Overall, Wakeford has six multi-point games so far in 2019-20.
WILD: NICK CAFARELLI
The Wild’s leading scorer is 18-year-old University of New Hampshire commit Nick Cafarelli, who has 10 points in his first eight career BCHL games.
The youngster is the BCHL’s top rookie scorer so far this season and enters with a three-game point streak (2G, 2A).
Noah Wakeford: 1 point from 75 career BCHL points
Akito Hirose: 5 assists from 75 career BCHL assists
Ethan Langenegger: 1 win from 25 career BCHL wins
This afternoon’s (and tomorrow’s) game will be streamed live on HockeyTV, but unfortunately it won’t be on EZ Rock. The two BCHL Showcase games are the only ones this season not broadcast on the radio.