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Hicks’ makes 53 saves, Centennials take down Silverbacks 5-4

Salmon Arm, BC – For the third time this season it was the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (16-13-3-1) and the Merritt Centennials (9-21-3-1) squaring off in a Friday night clash at the Shaw Centre. The two teams will meet a total of five times on the season. The ‘Backs and Centennials had met twice on the season, with both teams taking one of the two meetings. Salmon Arm is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the hands of the Wenatchee Wild, while the Centennials are coming off a 6-3 loss to the Vernon Vipers this past weekend.

Carter Richardson (4-2-1-0, 2.99 GAA, .898 S%, 1 SO) got the nod for the Silverbacks, while Johnny Hicks (7-7-3-0, 3.29 GAA, .919 S%) got the start for the Centennials.

The Centennials came out to a quick start in their first trip to Salmon Arm as they were able to get things going early on. It was Jaxson Murray (12) getting things going 5:21 into the opening frame as he was able to beat Richardson over the high glove to get the lead. Just under two minutes later it was Dylan Emerson (1) getting his first goal in the BCHL to extend the Centennials lead to two goals. The ‘Backs were resilient in their efforts as they looked poised to get things going in front of their home crowd. The captain, Nathan Mackie (17) found away to beat Johnny Hicks to pull the ‘Backs within one goal. Later in the period it was Ethan Ullrick (14) deflecting the shot home from the blueline to get the ‘Backs tied up at two a piece. Shots in the opening frame were 15-7 in favor of Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm was able to continue the momentum that they built to the end of the opening frame as they fired multiple shots towards the Centennials net, but Johnny Hicks was sharp as he kept things knotted up at two a piece. The Centennials were able to earn a early powerplay in the period, and found a way to capitalize as Jaxson Murray (13) got his second of the game to restore the Centennials lead. Just four minutes later it was Jackson Krill (14) making his way into the Silverbacks zone and beating Richardson to give the Centennials a two goal lead. Jaxson Murray (15) was able to complete his hat-trick late in the middle frame after a great cross ice pass by Christian Lowe. The Centennials took a three goal lead into the final frame. Shots in the period were 20-10 for Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm continued the shooting gallery in the final frame as they came out in the final frame looking to strike. As the period progressed it was Hayden Stavroff (4) getting the Silverbacks within two as he was able to beat Johnny Hicks with a shot up high. The ‘Backs stayed resilient as just just four minutes later Ryan Gillespie (6) made a move towards the front of the night and slid one home to pull the Silverbacks within one. Salmon Arm continued to apply the pressure as the period progressed, but the story of Johnny Hicks continued. The Silverbacks put 22 shots towards the Centennials net in the final frame, but fell one short.

Next up for the Silverbacks will be Saturday night at the Shaw Centre as they welcome the Trail Smoke Eaters into town. All kids 15 and under will get in free thanks to Edge Craft Construction! Puck drop is at 6:00PM.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Fowler