Seven hours north, and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks will have the Prince George Spruce waiting for them.
The Backs are coming off a 3-2 shootout win last night over the Penticton Vees while the Spruce Kings had the night off having played Thursday and losing 5-2 against the Powell River Kings.
Last season the two teams split the season series with Salmon Arm picking up an overtime win, and the Spruce Kings winning in regulation. In Prince George, the Spruce Kings have won five in a row against Salmon Arm outscoring the Silverbacks 25-11 in those five games. The last win in the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena for Salmon Arm was March 9th 2013.
Prince George is in a bit of a slump right now after jumping out to an early league lead in points. With 13 returning players from last year’s team that went to the BCHL finals, the Spruce Kings started 6-1-0-1 but are 1-3 in their last four games. Salmon Arm has the opposite record in the last four going 3-1.
Taking a look at the standings, Salmon Arm is tied for third in the Interior with the Penticton Vees at 13 points. The Vees are at home tonight taking on the Cowichan Valley Capitals who are last in the league. Merritt sits atop the Interior with 16 points, but have played three more games than Salmon Arm. Trail has 15 points after 12 games this year. Prince George is third in the Mainland Division and are in trouble of falling further behind the Coquitlam Express and Chilliwack Chiefs who are both hot right now and leading the division.
Drawing just one power play last night, Salmon Arm will be hard pressed to get man advantages tonight. Prince George has the second fewest PIMs this season averaging just over 8 minutes per game; Salmon Arm has averaged 14.
Playing in the RMCA comes with a pair of challenges for visitors. The arena size is smaller than most, and the back walls are very active which the Spruce Kings use to their advantage. Prince George will intentionally shoot pucks wide knowing that they will quickly rebound right into the slot. For a team not familiar with the rink, Salmon Arm will need to be aware of this situation.
Players to Watch:
Olson Werenka – In the small confines of the RMCA, there is less room to hide from the big hitting defenceman. Werenka has yet to go three games without a point this season, and right now has not found the scoresheet in the last two games. Prince George has some big bodies up front, and Werenka is a good bet to keep them humble.
Layton Ahac – A projected second round pick in the 2019 NHL draft, Layton Ahac is slightly behind his scoring rate from last year, but still has NHL scouts salivating. In 11 games this year, Ahac has five assists and it looking for his first goal of the season. Last year as a 16 year old defenceman he had 29 points in 57 games.
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