Silverbacks visit Bulldogs in Alberni Valley, after blanking Grizzlies in Victoria.

The Silverbacks began their Island Division road trip by shutting out the Victoria Grizzlies last night, 4-0 in the Provincial Capital and the ‘Backs continue the trip tonight at 7 p.m. as they will face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the first time this season.

Ross Heidt opened the scoring last night for the Silverbacks, his 11th of the season unassisted at 16:03 after a face-off at the Grizzlies blue-line. Heidt found the puck, skated in past the Grizzlies defense and backhanded it past starting goalie Michael Stiliadis. The ‘Backs have now scored first in 27 of their 43 games and are 17-6-1-3 when they open the scoring. Seconds after Heidt’s goal, Shane Danyluk and the Grizzlies Thomas Gobeil dropped the gloves deep in Victoria territory. Both Danyluk and Gobeil were assessed five minutes for fighting and game misconducts, as well as Gobeil received two minutes for roughing at 16:25. The Silverbacks didn’t capitalize on the man-advantage, while Anthony Gardner came the closest to extending the lead in the first period but was robbed in the Grizzlies slot by Stiliadis and his glove. The ‘Backs took their 1-0 lead into the first intermission, while the Grizzlies lead on the shot-clock 11-10.

The Silverbacks scored the only goal of the middle frame, and it came off of the stick of Nick Hutchison who banged in his first since October 3rd when he scored and then broke his leg versus the Vees in Penticton. Hutchison potted his 4th of the season at 17:40 from Josh Blanchard and Taylor Maruya to put the ‘Backs ahead 2-0. Each team had 12 shots in the second period.

Josh Laframboise and Branden Wagner doubled the visitors lead in the final frame, as Laframboise skated in over the Grizzlies line with Taro Hirose who dropped the puck off for Laframboise and he fired it in from the right-wing circle. Hirose with the assist on Lamframboise’s 8th at 10:49. Wagner made the score 4-0 at 15:47, as he banged the puck in from the top of the slot. Wagner’s 6th of the season from Thomas Plese. The Silverbacks out-shot the Grizzlies 21-8 in the third period and 34-31 overall. Angus Redmond made 31 saves for his third shut-out of the season. Victoria finished 0-for-1 on the power-play and the ‘Backs went without a man-advantage.

The Silverbacks are now 19-16-3-5 with 46 points in 43 games and fifth in the Interior Division. The ‘Backs are three points behind the fourth place West Kelowna Warriors, but have two games in hand on the Warriors who lost 5-1 in Alberni Valley last night. The Warriors visit Powell River at 7:15 tonight. The Silverbacks are four points back of the Merritt Centennials who lost 4-1 in Penticton last night. The Cents host the Vernon Vipers at 7:30 tonight. The ‘Backs are 13 points ahead of the Trail Smoke Eaters who are in sixth place and lost 8-7 in overtime in Chilliwack last night, the Smoke Eaters are in Langley at 7 tonight.

The Bulldogs are 21-16-2-3 with 47 points in 42 games and fourth in the Island Division. Alberni Valley is one point behind Victoria in third place and has three games hand on the Grizzlies, while the Bulldogs are three points back of second place Powell River with three games in hand on the Kings. The Dogs are 10 points clear and have four games in hand on the Cowichan Valley Capitals who are in fifth place.

The Bulldogs are 5-4-1-0 in their last 10 games, 12-9-0-1 at home and 3-4-0-0 versus the Interior Division. Meanwhile, the Silverbacks are 7-3-0-0- in their last 10, 9-8-1-3 on the road, and 3-3-0-1 versus the Island Division.

Alberni Valley has scored 157 goals in 42 games and allowed 136, which is the fourth lowest goals against in the BCHL. The Silverbacks have 145 goals in 43 games and 139 against, the fifth lowest goals against in the BCHL.

The Bulldogs have the second ranked power-play in the BCHL at 26.15% with 51 power-play goals and the third ranked penalty-kill at 80.41% with six short-handed markers and 38 power-play goals against. The ‘Backs power-play is 7th in the BCHL at 23.68% with 36 power-play goals and their penalty-kill is tenth at 76.51% with six short-handed goals and 39 power-play goals against.

Andrew Farny leads the Silverbacks with 14 goals and 31 assists in 43 games and is the highest scoring defenseman in the BCHL, 25th overall. Kurt Gosselin leads the Bulldogs and is the second highest scoring defenseman, 32nd overall with 12 goals and 31 assists in 32 games. Taro Hirose of the ‘Backs is 31st overall, with 15 goals and 28 assists in 43 games. The Bulldogs Mitch Makin has 16 goals and 26 assists in 42 games and is 35th overall, while Scott Clark has 17 goals and 24 assists in 40 games to sit 36th overall.

The ‘Backs and Bulldogs will meet for the second and final time this regular season at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 20th at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm.

‘Backs Head Coach Brandon West with his thought’s ahead of tonight’s game.

The Silverbacks finish their Island road trip tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in Nanaimo. The ‘Backs won 5-4 in overtime at home over the Clippers last Saturday.

All Silverbacks regular season and playoff games are webcast via http://www.fasthockey.com as well as audio only at http://mixlr.com/sasilverbacks/ Also, all Silverbacks road games are broadcast on CKVS-FM 93.7 http://www.voiceoftheshuswap Tonight’s broadcast from Alberni Valley will begin with the Pre-game show at 6:45p.m., the Opening Face-off is set for 7p.m.

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