The Silverbacks host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at 7p.m. tonight at the Shaw Centre in their only regular season meeting in Salmon Arm and just their second meeting of the season.
The ‘Backs are 25-20-3-5 with 58 points in 53 games and come into tonight’s action occupying the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division, with one game in hand on the West Kelowna Warriors who also have 58 points but are 25-21-0-8 in 54 games. The Silverbacks and Warriors are just two points behind the Merritt Centennials who are 29-22-0-2 with 60 points in 53 games. The Warriors host the Chilliwack Chiefs tonight at 7p.m., while the Centennials take on the Vees in Penticton beginning at 7p.m.
Alberni Valley is 26-21-2-4 with 58 points in 53 games and holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the Island Division, the Bulldogs are three points behind the third place Victoria Grizzlies and four points back of the Powell River Kings who are in second place. Alberni Valley has one game in hand on both the Kings and Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs doubled the ‘Backs 4-2 in Alberni Valley on Saturday, January 24th. After a scoreless first period, the home team opened the scoring in the middle frame and Nick Hutchison got the Silverbacks on the board in the second period before the Bulldogs retook the lead in the third. Ross Heidt tied the game at two but just 20 seconds later Alberni Valley went ahead 3-2 and later added an empty netter. The Bulldogs outshot the ‘Backs 29-19.
Tonight will be the Silverbacks first game since last Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Vipers in Vernon and the ‘Backs host the Vipers tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7p.m. at the Shaw Centre. That loss snapped the ‘Backs six game win streak, as they are now 4-1-0-0 in February, 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games and 13-8-2-2 at the Shaw Centre this season.
The Silverbacks are 3-5-0-1 versus the Island Division this season, while the Bulldogs are 6-4-0-0 versus the Interior Division.
Alberni Valley dropped a 4-3 overtime decision at home to the Victoria Grizzlies on Wednesday, February 18th. The Bulldogs are 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games and 10-11-2-2 on the road.
Tonight will feature two of the team’s who have allowed the fewest goals thus far this season, the Silverbacks are fourth with 161 in 53 games while the Bulldogs are sixth with 175 in 53 games.
Alberni Valley has the second ranked power-play in the BCHL with 60 goals and was 1-for-4 against the ‘Backs last month, along with a short-handed marker in the game. The Silverbacks man-advantage is 12th with 40 goals and was 0-for-4 in Alberni Valley.
The Bulldogs penalty-kill is ranked fourth and went 4-for-4 versus the ‘Backs, while the Silverbacks are eighth in the BCHL and were 3-for-4 in Alberni Valley.
Mitch Makin leads the Bulldogs in scoring and is 17th in the league overall with 24 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. Scott Clark is ranked 31st and has 22 goals and 28 assists in 51 games for Alberni Valley.
The Silverbacks Andrew Farny is still the highest scoring defenseman at 34th overall and leads the ‘Backs with 14 goals and 35 assists in 53 games. Taro Hirose is 38th with 18 goals and 29 assists in 53 games.
‘Backs Head Coach Brandon West with his thought’s ahead of tonight’s game.
The Silverbacks will conclude their weekend tomorrow night at 7p.m. when they host the Vernon Vipers for the final regular season meeting. The Vipers are at home to the Trail Smoke Eaters tonight at 7p.m.
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 the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm will begin with the Pre-game show at 6:45p.m., the Opening Face-off is set for 7p.m.