Salmon Arm, B.C. — On City of Salmon Arm Jersey night on Friday, the ‘3-on-3 assassin’ struck again.
For the third time this season, captain Akito Hirose scored an overtime-winning-goal for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, this time in a 3-2 defeat over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. His ninth of the season was a snipe from the slot past Jackson Glassford with 39.5 seconds to go in the extra frame, in a game where the Backs fired 55 shots on goal.
Salmon Arm’s record now stands at 22-17-2, tied with Wenatchee for third place at 46 points apiece. The Silverbacks technically sit in third because they have a game in hand on the Wild. The Vernon Vipers have 44 points and a game in hand on the Backs.
The first period saw the Silverbacks out-shoot the visitors 11-9, with both Ethan Langenegger and Jackson Glassford settling in nicely. The Backs first power play had some solid looks halfway through the frame, but Glassford came up strong.
With 4:28 to go in the period, however, Lucas Breault zipped a pass to Daniel Rybarik at the offensive blue line, who used his speed to dart past Jimmy Rayhill down the left wing and finished with a shot through the five hole to open the scoring for Salmon Arm.
The Silverbacks began the second period by killing off the tail end of a four minute penalty kill. After each team failed to capitalize on a power play, Bulldog forward Josh Zary stole a puck behind the Backs net and centered to Jackson Doucet, who converted to tie the game 1-1.
Salmon Arm had two power play opportunities before the second period came to a close, but they couldn’t take the lead, despite firing 19 shots on goal in the period overall.
Two more power plays went by the wayside to start the third despite more quality chances, and soon after a lucky bounce led to the go-ahead goal for the Bulldogs, after a point shot hit Jacob Bosse in front and changed direction before landing in the back of the net.
Less than a minute later, the Silverbacks finally broke through on the man advantage, after Luke Mylymok was left all alone in front and made no mistake on the backhand, going top shelf to tie the game 2-2.
Despite more good chances for both sides throughout the third, the game needed overtime.
With 39.5 seconds to go in overtime, Noah Wakeford stopped up just inside the blue line on the left wing side and waited for Hirose to head to the net. He then fed a perfect pass to the captain, who took his time before beating Glassford cleanly to end the game and give the Backs two huge points.
Akito Hirose — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: His ninth goal of the season, 41st point and third OT winner all at once — it was yet another impressive performance from the captain on a night where they needed him to be clutch.
“Who else but the 3-on-3 assassin Akito for the game-winner? You’re always confident when you’ve got him on your team when it gets to overtime.” Asst. coach Carter Cochrane on Hirose’s dagger
Noah Wakeford — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Wakeford tallied three assists tonight, giving him 41 points in 41 games this season. He is also up to 99 points in his career.
“His three assists — that’s Noah to a tee. He just plays his game, he plays it well. You’re not sure how much he hurt you until you look at the scoresheet after and go, ‘oh it was 20 again’. That ‘red line’ has been rolling pretty good, but I think Wakesy really stood out tonight.” — Cochrane on Wakeford’s performance
Ethan Langenegger — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Langenegger set a new career high with 19 wins, thanks to his 25 saves. He made a huge breakaway save on captain Mitch Deelstra with under three minutes to go in regulation and the game tied 2-2. He’s back up to a .914 SV% on the season, impressive considering he leads the league in minutes played with 1,976.
“Glassford was great for Alberni tonight, but the fact that we put up 55 shots doesn’t discredit what Langer did. He kept us in it. We knew that when the power plays started rolling our way, that eventually they were going to get one back. Our kill stepped up huge on the 5-on-3, but so did Langer in those opportunities. They got a couple breakaways. The ‘D’ broke down a couple times where they got some good looks and he’s rock solid back there. Now with the addition of Grant Adams, we know we’re getting a rested Ethan Langenegger and a rested Ethan Langenegger is a dangerous thing.” – Cochrane on Langenegger
For the full boxscore, click here.
STAT OF THE GAME
54 Shots on Goal: If not for Glassford, this game could have ended much differently. He now has 91 saves in two games against the Backs this season.
THEY SAID IT
Cochrane on the win:
“I think it’s just a huge sigh of relief from everyone. We feel like we’ve been playing really good hockey since the break and haven’t been rewarded for it. I think it’s just a testament to our group’s resiliency tonight. It just seemed like another one of those night where we’re doing all of the right things and a lucky bounce there off the face-off and the puck is in the back of our net and the next thing you know we’re looking up at the clock at 2-1. But I think our group had enough of the moral victories and it’s a testament to those guys for pulling it out tonight.”
The Silverbacks host the Vernon Vipers for another Sunday matinee at 3 p.m., their fifth game of a six-game homestand. Their sixth straight at home is Wednesday against the Prince George Spruce Kings.
All games can be heard on 91.5 EZ Rock with the pre-game show starting half an hour before puck drop. Fans can also stream the game on HockeyTV.