2018 didn’t end the way Salmon Arm was hoping. Heading into the final period with a one goal lead, the Silverbacks would surrender two goals plus an empty netter falling 3-1 to the Langley Rivermen.
Two power plays were awarded to Salmon Arm in the first period but they were held to a combined two shots and couldn’t beat Braedon Fleming who made his first start of the year against the Silverbacks. Langley fired 15 shots on goal but couldn’t solve Matthew Armitage who missed last weekend with the team after being called up by the Hitmen of the WHL. The best chance on the power plays was a shorthanded opportunity by Trevor Ayre of the Rivermen, but their leading scorer was stopped. John Little passed the puck from the left wall out to Justin Wilson, and with seven minutes to go the 20 year old forward made a nice move to get around the defence but was unable to score.
The second period saw 27 shots on goal, but only one went in. Justin Wilson was again setup by Little three minutes in, but couldn’t find the opening goal. On a partial breakaway with six and a half minutes remaining, Langley’s captain Alec Capstick was denied by Armitage. Less then two minutes later Justin Wilson would eventually break through for his team. Coming down on a two on two with Little. Wilson took a shot that rang off the left post and into the net for the 1-0 lead. The Rivermen nearly had the equalizer late in the period with Daneel Lategan in front of the crease and an empty net to shot into, but the Silverbacks managed to get a stick in the way to block the shot.
An early power play in the third period got the Rivermen rolling and they didn’t look back. Setup in front of the net, Trevor Ayre rook a quick pass from Jake Livingstone and was able to tap the puck in to tie the game. 31 seconds later an odd man rush for the Rivermen ended with a slap pass from Benjamin Perkins deflected in front of the goal by defenceman Colten Kovich who had jumped into the play. Holding onto the lead, Langley would head to a power play halfway through the period. The best chance came for Salmon Arm with Wilson being sprung for a breakaway, but he was unable to tie the game up.
The Silverbacks had a late power play of their own, but couldn’t beat the #2 penalty kill in the league, ending zero for five on the night. Salmon Arm would pull Armitage for the extra attacker, but a three-on-one for Langley shortly after ended in Ethan Leyh tapping the puck into the empty net for the 3-1 final.
Matthew Armitage stopping 40 of 42 shots was named the second star of the game.
Matthew Armitage making his first start in two weeks was great for Salmon Arm. He was active handling the puck, and made a number of key saves through the first two periods to allow his team to have the lead after 40. In the third he had to stop a number of chances as well to keep the game as close as it was. Playing on a line with Wilson and Trevor Adams this past week seemed to ignite John Little. He played setup man on a number of occasions Friday night and was good at hunting down pucks in the offensive zone. It was a great turnout for the Silverbacks Family in the George Preston Arena as there were a few spread out cheering sections every time the Silverbacks made a good play.