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Preview: Backs to Renew Rivalry with Vipers

Salmon Arm, B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks will look to take the positives from last weekend’s split into action tonight against arguably their biggest rival: the Vernon Vipers.

The first of a double-header goes this evening at Kal Tire Place at 6 p.m., while the rematch is set for tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the Shaw Centre. This will be the first head-to-head meeting between the two since Jan. 19.

The Backs are 1-3 so far in the Okanagan Cup exhibition tournament and the Vipers are 0-4.

3 Things of Note

1) SPECIAL TEAMS

It may be early on, but there’s no doubt the Backs are looking for more from their special teams.

One metric that measures their effectiveness as a whole is the Bowman number or Bowman Index (named after Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman). This number simply combines your power play percentage and your penalty kill percentage. Ideally, you’d like that number to be at least 100, with anything 105 or higher considered very strong, but right now the Backs Bowman number is 82.2. Their power play is just 10 per cent so far (2-for-20), while their penalty kill is 72.2 per cent (13-for-18).

Simply put, both need to be better.

2) BACKS LOOKING FOR MORE SACRIFICE

Another area of focus for Salmon Arm this weekend is shot blocking. Getting in the shooting lanes and limiting secondary scoring chances are ingredients to strong d-zone play on any club and that’s definitely the case here.

A lot of that comes down to giving that extra little bit of effort, often when you’re out of gas. Against a defensive oriented team like the Vipers, it’s even more important, so we’ll see how the Backs fare in that regard.

3) VIPERS NEED GOALS

Through four games of the Okanagan Cup so far, the Vipers have scored a grand total of three goals. They’ve certainly been hit with the injury bug, but that can’t be an excuse. They’ve averaged 26.75 shots on goal per game so far.

The Silverbacks, meanwhile, scored twice in their first weekend and then seven times last weekend, despite averaging just 23 shots on goal per game through four contests.

Players to Watch

SILVERBACKS: DREW BENNETT

Bennett scored twice last weekend — once in each game — and was a major driving force behind the Silverbacks strong third period where they outshot West Kelowna 12-5. Even though Salmon Arm lost by a goal, they probably deserved a better fate.

The Newfoundland product is an assistant captain in his final season of junior, and will always be counted on at both ends of the ice, as he plays on both special teams units, is strong defensively and can play both wing and centre.

VIPERS: WILL ARQUIETT

The Vipers acquired Arquiett from the Cowichan Valley Capitals earlier this week and he will be counted on in all situations. The 20-year-old scored 16 goals and added 14 assists last season for the Capitals, his first in the BCHL. This will be his first game in a Viper uniform. His is also one of just four 20-year-olds on the team.

Tune In

As always, all games will be streamed live on HockeyTV. Tonight’s game will also be on Shaw Spotlight (with home audio only), which is channel 299 on Shaw Direct or channel 105 on Shaw Spotlight Local. There will also be a FREE radio stream available at https://mixlr.com/sa-silverbacks.