Salmon Arm B.C. — The Salmon Arm Silverbacks took down the West Kelowna Warriors 4-1 in their season opener on Sunday afternoon at the Shaw Centre to start their season on a winning note.
It took less than five minutes for the first goal of the 2019-20 regular season to be scored, as veteran Trevor Adams knocked the puck in from the short side on a power play 4:40 into the game (Hunter Sansbury was robbed of an assist by the referees, so we hoped that gets fixed!).
Halfway through the first period, defenceman Tony Andreozzi fired a quick wrist shot to the goal right after an offensive zone face-off that beat goaltender Johnny Derrick to double the Backs’ lead to 2-0. Akito Hirose assisted on the tally.
Salmon Arm carried that 2-0 lead into the first intermission, where they also had an 18-12 lead in shots on goal.
The Warriors got one back just 1:12 into the second period courtesy of defenceman Ryan Novecosky. Rob Christy took a puck hard to the net, and by doing so knocked into goaltender Ethan Langenegger, which allowed Novecosky to have a wide open cage when he followed up on the play. Christy’s drive not only pushed Lanegenegger out of position, but also knocked his stick all the way into the corner.
After 40 minutes of play, the score was still 2-1 for the home side, with a 29-19 edge in shots.
The Warriors came out with some renewed energy in the third period but also were handed three straight power plays, which helped them out-shoot the Silverbacks 12-10 in the frame. Each and every time they had a good chance, however, Langenegger was up to the task, turning aside each of the 12 third period shots that he faced.
With just 2:46 to go in the final period, the Silverbacks got the insurance goal they needed, courtesy of rookie Jayden Price, who released a quick shot blocker side right from the slot after new signee William Poirier drew two defenders to him. Daniel Rybarik would add an unassisted empty netter to make the final score 4-1.
Jayden Price, SA Silverbacks: It won’t count as the game-winner, but Price’s insurance marker with under three minutes to go lifted a huge weight off the team’s shoulders. The rookie impressed in pre-season and was given an opportunity right off the bat to play with some skilled, experienced forwards in William Poirier and Noah Wakeford. The California native did not disappoint in his BCHL debut.
Ethan Langenegger, Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Langenegger didn’t have to make too many difficult saves in the first two periods, spending most of his time redirecting low shots into the corner or out of play with his stick. But he was great in the third period, making numerous shoulder saves in tight plus a noticeable glove save as well. He finished the afternoon with 30 saves on 31 shots to pick up his 20th career victory.
Johnny Derrick, West Kelowna Warriors: The Backs fired 38 shots on goaltender Johnny Derrick in this one and the 17-year-old allowed only three goals. Particularly impressive was a post-to-post pad save on Nick Unruh in the second period to keep the game within one goal.
Drew Bennett, SA Silverbacks: Bennett was phenomenal on the penalty kill in his BCHL debut and his puck retrieval skills were also on full display. He was relentless on the forecheck at the proper time when down a man but he also knew when to back off. Bennett is one of many new Backs recruits out of the US High School Prep circuit, having played with Devan Newhook at Kimball Union Academy last year.
STAT OF THE GAME
Silverbacks PK 8-for-8: This was a no-brainer. The refs certainly made it hard on the Backs in the third period with three straight calls against, but each and every time the penalty killers were more than up to the task.
Assistant coach Tanner Cochrane on the PK: “Our defence has really long sticks so we’re able to break up opportunities really good. I thought the guys did a good job of collecting sticks in front of the net. There were a couple flurries, but Lanegenegger being as good as he is — goalie has got to be your best penalty killer — I thought Langer did a really good job back there. Sticks were good and then I just think we didn’t really give them any chances. They didn’t really have a lot of zone time. We keep the puck to 200 foot clears. Everything just worked in our favour tonight and it was an effort thing…When your team speed is better it makes killing penalties easier. There’s a lot of options. We rolled six ‘D’ on the PK today and I know Scotty had a lot of options up front.”
The Silverbacks head to Trail next weekend for a double header on the road against the Smoke Eaters. Both Friday and Saturday’s games begin at 7 p.m., with the pre-game show on 91.5 EZ Rock getting under way at 6:30 p.m. Fans can also stream the game on HockeyTV.
The next Backs home game is Friday, Sept. 20 when the Powell River Kings come to town. For tickets, click here.