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Preview: Backs and Vipers Clash For Second Last Time

Salmon Arm, B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks (22-17-2) host the Vernon Vipers (22-17-2) on Sunday afternoon at the Shaw Centre, the fifth time the heated rivals will have played in the last seven weeks.

This is the fifth of six head-to-head meeting this season. The Silverbacks trail the season series three games to one so far, with their lone win coming on Dec. 29 in Vernon by a 5-2 score. The Vipers edged the Backs 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 22, won 2-0 on Nov. 30 and then 4-2 last Sunday.

Today’s game has a 3 p.m. puck drop.

Last Time Out

The Backs are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday night.

Captain Akito Hirose scored his third overtime winner of the season after getting a feed from Noah Wakeford in the slot.

Wakeford had three assists, while Daniel Rybarik and Luke Mylymok each scored. Ethan Langenegger topped his win total from last season as well, picking up his 19th ‘W’ of the season with a 25-save performance.

Before Friday’s win, the Silverbacks had lost three straight despite out-shooting the opposition in each contest.

A Closer Look

After scoring just four goals during a brief three-game losing streak, the Backs potted three on Friday. They have averaged 42.7 shots on goal per game over their last six (and out-shot their opponents in each one) and they’ve only allowed an average of 30.7 shots against during that stretch.

Friday was the Backs’ first overtime game since Nov. 22 and their first OT win since Nov. 17 against Wenatchee. They are 6-1 in OT this season and 1-1 in shootouts.

Hirose’s ninth goal of the season on Friday moves him into sole possession of second amongst all BCHL defencemen, while his 41 points still rank first (three more than second place). The Backs captain is now just seven points away from moving into the top-10 in all-time franchise scoring (113 career points right now).

Ethan Langenegger’s 19th win on Friday not only set a career high but also ranks third in the BCHL. He is first in the league in minutes played (1,976) and second in saves (932). His .914 SV% and 2.67 G.A.A both rank seventh.

The Opposition

The Vipers took down the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-3 last night, their second consecutive win by that score. They beat the Wenatchee Wild 7-3 last Sunday on home ice. Vernon has scored 18 goals in their last three games, after scoring 11 times in their previous six games.

The Vipers are 3-3 since the winter break. They are 12-8-2 on the road this season.

Notable Versus Vernon

Salmon Arm and Vernon not only enter with the exact same record, but also the exact same goal differential (+2).

Three of the four meetings this season have been decided by two goals or less.

Langenegger has played all four of the head-to-head games and carries a .932 SV% in those games. Lucas Breault has five points despite being limited to just two of the games against Vernon, while Dawson Holt has five points in the four head-to-head games for the Vipers.

Making His Debut

New acquisition Jeremy Gervais will make his Silverback debut on Sunday afternoon, after being acquired at the trade deadline. Gervais posted 76 points in 92 games with the Bonnyville Pontiacs over the last season and a half, to go along with 238 penalty minutes. He will wear #8.

Upcoming Milestones

Noah Wakeford: 2 points from 100 career BCHL points.

Nick Unruh: 4 points from 100 career BCHL points.

Tune In

Pre-game coverage on EZ Rock starts at 2:30 p.m. with puck drop scheduled for 3 p.m. The game will also be streamed live on HockeyTV.