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Okanagan Cup Semifinal Preview: Backs vs. Vees

PHOTO: PURE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Salmon Arm, B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Penticton Vees will face off in the semifinal of the Okanagan Cup on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The contest is a one-game elimination, with the winner moving on to Saturday’s final.

Salmon Arm went 3-8-1 in the round robin, while the Vees went 11-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Backs on Oct. 24.

3 Things of Note

1) FINISH, FINISH, FINISH

The Silverbacks are coming off a weekend where they only scored three times on 61 shots. Even more telling than the shots on goal is the quality chances they were able to generate, which were heavily in their favour in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to the West Kelowna Warriors.

“I think we controlled the play for the majority of the periods last weekend and deserved a bit of a better fate,” Silverbacks head coach Tyler Shattock said on Friday morning. “But that’s one of those things: is when you’re inconsistent, those games can happen. Once we get to the consistent part of our game, we’ll win more games than we lose.”

Salmon Arm will need to capitalize on their chances tonight, especially in a one-game elimination against a team that allowed more than two goals just three times in 12 round robin games and shut out their opponent in four of 12.

The good news is the Vees allowed just 10 goals in their first eight games of the round robin (1.25 GA/Gm), but allowed nine goals in their final four (2.25 GA/Gm).

2) MAKE PENTICTON PLAY ‘D’

The Vees have lots of weapons up front, so the best way to defend against it is to make them play in their own zone. Easier said than done, sure, but if you focus on good puck management, especially at both blue lines, and generate a strong cycle game down low, you can wear them down.

“We’ve got to get it out at our [blue line] to not let them sustain offensive pressure and then once we get it across theirs, we have to really possess pucks in the o-zone and make them defend,” Shattock said. “The more time they’re defending, the less time they have to play offence and that’s the key with these guys.”

Penticton feeds off the rush, but that’s not how the Silverbacks want to generate offence against them. Salmon Arm will need all four lines going on Friday if they want to sustain offensive zone pressure.

3) PREVIOUS MEETINGS

While Penticton handily defeated the Silverbacks in the opening weekend of the Okanagan Cup, the two teams most recently had consecutive one-goal contests on Oct. 23 and 24. The Backs narrowly fell 3-2 on the 23rd and won 4-2 on the 24th.

“What we really have to take from [that] weekend is we played hard, we were above pucks and we were making them count numbers defensively and have to come through all of us to score,” Shattock said. “That was one of our better weekends of the year, just commitment-wise to what we’re preaching here.”

Another tight game is expected, not just because of those two games three weeks ago, but also because the Backs have added Zach Dubinsky, Sullivan Mack, Mitchell Brown and Cole Schwebius since then, plus forward Nathan Morgan missed those games due to injury.

Penticton has added Tri-City Americans forward Connor Bouchard as well as since then, but the Backs certainly have more additions on paper.

Players to Watch

SILVERBACKS: SULLIVAN MACK

Mack played in his first two games as a Silverback last weekend and had several high-quality scoring chances, especially on Saturday.

He’s got a wicked shot with a quick release and has quick feet too, helping him score 44 goals in 34 games last season in US-High School Prep with Kimball Union Academy. It’s only a matter of time before he starts to find the back of the net.

 

VEES: JACOB QUILLAN

Quillan was the second star in Saturday’s 6-3 win over Vernon with a goal and an assist and has six points in his last six games, after recording just two points in his first six.

Tune In

As always, all games will be streamed live on BCHLTV!

Tonight’s game will also be on Shaw Spotlight (home feed only), which is channel 105 if you have Shaw local cable (BlueCurve TV) and channel 295 if you have Shaw Direct satellite.

Additionally, there will be a free audio stream available at mixlr.com/sa-silverbacks.