‘Backs host Vipers, after getting by Bulldogs.

The Silverbacks battled back and forth with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last night (Friday) at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm, as the ‘Backs came away with a 4-3 victory. The Silverbacks still occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division as they will host the Vernon Vipers at 7p.m. tonight for the eighth and final regular season meeting between the Interior Division rivals.

The visitors opened the scoring on the power-play in the opening period last night, with Josh Laframboise off for hooking, Chris Schutz beat Angus Redmond for his 24th of the season from Brett Stewart and Drew Weich at 4:49 and the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into the middle period. The ‘Backs outshot Alberni Valley 11-8 in the first frame.

Carson Bolduc tied the game just 1:12 into the second period, a power-play goal as well with Scott Clark penalized four minutes for high-sticking Jordan Burns late in the first. Taro Hirose and Josh Laframboise were buzzing around the goal and Laframboise fired a shot on net, Bolduc then jumped on the rebound in front of Bulldogs starter Billy Christopoulos for his 17th. Hirose and Laframboise with the assists.

The Silverbacks took their first lead of the game with Taylor Maruya off for interference, Josh Blanchard capitalized on an Alberni Valley turnover at the Bulldogs line and Blanchard raced in alone, shorthanded and deaked out Christopoulos for his 17th at 12:12, unassisted.

Alberni Valley would tied the game 2-2 in the final minute of the second period, as Eric Margo deposited his sixth from former Silverback Marcus Russell at 19:46. The Bulldogs outshot the ‘Backs 11-9 in the middle period.

Colton Thibault gave the Silverbacks their second lead of the game just 5:21 into the third, as Branden Wagner worked the puck back to Anthony Gardner at the left point off of the face-off in the Bulldogs zone. And Gardner, who was playing in his first game since Saturday, January 24th in Alberni Valley fired a shot toward to the goal where Thibault found the rebound for his 11th.

But the Bulldogs would not go away, scoring another goal in the last minute of a period as at 19:26 Dylan Haugen potted his 18th, 6-on-5 to tie the game 3-3.

And just 10 seconds after that, the puck was flipped high into Bulldogs territory from the face-off at centre and Carson Bolduc found it in the slot and scored his second of the game and 18th of the season as he slid it in blocker side. Hirose with the assist at 19:36.

Alberni Valley outshot the Silverbacks 11-6 in the third period and 31-26 overall.

The Bulldogs finished 1-for-5 with the man-advantage, while the ‘Backs were 1-for-6 and had a short-handed marker as well.

The Silverbacks are 26-20-3-5 with 60 points in 54 games and in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division. The ‘Backs are tied in points with both the Merritt Centennials who sit in third place and are 29-23-0-2 with 60 points in 54 games, along with the West Kelowna Warriors who are in the fifth spot and 26-21-0-8 with 60 points in 55 games. The Silverbacks and Cents each have a game in hand on the Warriors.

The Vipers are 36-16-1-3 with 76 points in 56 games and have second place in the Interior locked up.

As well tonight, the Warriors will be in Trail at 7:30p.m. to take on the Smoke Eaters and tomorrow at 2p.m. the Centennials host Alberni Valley.

The season series between the ‘Backs and Vipers is tied with each team winning three of the first seven games, as well as one tie. The Vipers began the season series with a 3-2 win at home on Friday, October 10th before the Silverbacks evened the series after a 2-1 victory in Salmon Arm on Friday, November 7th. The team’s settled for a 3-3 tie on Saturday, November 8th in Vernon and the Vipers took the series lead later in the month with a 7-5 win at the Shaw Centre on Friday, November 28th. The Silverbacks won both meetings in January and shutout the Vipers, 3-0 on Friday, January 30th in Vernon followed by a 1-0 shutout on Saturday, January 31st in Salmon Arm. The Vipers won the last meeting and first of February, 2-1 in Vernon on Friday, February 13th.

The Silverbacks have outscored the Vipers 17-16 in the seven games this season. Vernon is third in the league with 214 goals scored in their 56 games, while the Silverbacks are 14th with 177 goals in 54 games. The Vipers are ranked second with 154 goals allowed thus far, while the ‘Backs are close behind in fourth spot with 164 goals against.

The Vipers have three players in the Top 20 in BCHL scoring, as Liam Finaley is 13th overall with 23 goals and 39 assists in 53 games. Liam Coughlin is ranked 15th with 20 goals and 40 assists in 53 games and Thomas Aldworth is 20th with 36 goals and 19 assists in 55 games.

Andrew Farny still leads the Silverbacks in scoring and is the highest ranked defenseman in the BCHL, 36th overall with 14 goals and 35 assists in 53 games. Taro Hirose is 35th with 18 goals and 31 assists in 54 games.

Vernon’s power-play is ranked fifth with 53 goals and is 4-for-22 in the seven games versus the ‘Backs, while the Silverbacks man-advantage is 12th with 41 power-play goals and is 5-for-26 against the Vipers. Vernon’s penalty-kill is fifth in the league and 21-for-26 versus the ‘Backs, while the Silverbacks are seventh on the PK and 18-for-23 against the Vipers.

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

After tonight, the Silverbacks will travel to Langley on Tuesday, February 24th to take on the Rivermen at 8p.m. and that is just one of the three regular season games remaining as the ‘Backs will host the Merritt Centennials at 7p.m. on Friday, February 27th at the Shaw Centre before travelling to Penticton to take on the Vees at 6p.m. on Saturday, February 28th.

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.

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