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Silverbacks Shut Out; Express League-Best Win Streak Continues

Salmon Arm, B.C. — Stymied yet again — that was the story on Sunday afternoon.

Despite firing 43 shots on goaltender Jack Watson, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were shut out 1-0 by the Coquitlam Express, who won their 17th straight game. It’s the third straight game the Backs have fired 43 shots on net and lost.

The Backs record now stands at 21-17-2, tied with both Vernon and Wenatchee at 44 points apiece. The Vipers technically sit in third because they hold the tiebreaker on the Silverbacks, who are in fourth because they have a game in hand on the Wild.

GAME SUMMARY

The first period saw the Silverbacks get a few power play chances, including a brief 5-on-3, but fail to convert due to some strong penalty killing from the visitors. After one period of play, things were scoreless with the Backs holding a 20-6 advantage in shots on goal.

It was more of the same in the second, but this time Salmon Arm’s power play looked more in sync. Unfortunately, Watson made some incredible stops to keep things knotted up, plus the post bailed him out on a Hunter Sansbury rocket late in the frame. Not to be outdone was Silverback netminder Grant Adams — who was making his first start and came up with some big stops himself.

After 40 minutes, neither team had found the back of the net, despite Salmon Arm firing 36 shots on goal.

Just before the halfway part of the third period, the Express got the game’s only goal on an odd-man rush after Ethan O’Rourke came down the right wing and fed a pass across to Greg Lapointe, who beat Adams for his 24th of the season.

The Silverbacks got two more power plays after the Express went up 1-0, but once again Watson shut the down on multiple opportunities, while Akito Hirose also hit the post. By the time Salmon Arm finally pulled the goalie, it was a little bit too late and the Express held on for their 17th straight win via a 1-0 final.

TOP PERFORMERS

Jack Watson — Coquitlam Express: Watson had to be sharp because of all the PK time for his club and he played likely his best game of the season with 43 saves.

Grant Adams — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Adams stopped 26 of 27 in his BCHL debut, including a huge left pad stop on Tyler Schleppe six minutes into the second period to keep things scoreless. He had very few rebounds and his only blemish was a tough one to handle on a cross-crease pass on an odd-man rush.

“He comes exactly as advertised. That’s who we thought we were getting when he came here, so it’s great to see him step into the crease and he owned it. There was no lack of confidence from him. You could just see with the way he handled the puck. I felt like he has a good read for the game…It definitely seemed like we had a lot of trust in Grant today, which is huge because it’s how we kind of play in front of [Ethan] Langenegger.” — Asst. coach Carter Cochrane on Adams debut

Zach Gabruch— Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Gabruch was strong defensively and logged some significant minutes because the club dressed only five ‘D’.

“I thought Gabruch was a horse on the backend. A guy who I always feel like doesn’t get enough credit for the job he does. He’s such a good penalty killer for us, he plays tough minutes, plays against other team’s top lines a lot of the time. Coquitlam has a high powered attack and they didn’t seem to generate too much when Gabby was out there.”

For the full boxscore, click here.

STAT OF THE GAME

43 Saves for Watson: Watson was the player of the game without a doubt. His rebound control was excellent and he also made some big stops with the glove for his eighth win in 10 games this season.

THEY SAID IT

Cochrane on the game as a whole:

“It’s another good effort. It’s another one where we felt we carried the play. Got to credit Jack Watson — he had a terrific game. I think it’s just another one of those cases where there just seemed to be pucks laying there, chances off the post, second chance opportunities, where at some point those have to start going in. You can feel the frustration mounting with our group and we’re trying to stay positive.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The Silverbacks six-game home-stand is now at the halfway point and it continues Friday against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Puck drop Friday night at the Shaw Centre is set for 7 p.m. Next weekend the Backs also host the Vernon Vipers for another Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.

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.