They may only be four games into the season, but the Salmon Arm Silverbacks are enjoying the view from atop the BCHL’s Interior Division.
After their home- opener win against Penticton, the ’Backs downed division rivals Merritt on the road in a game that was on a knife’s edge, winning 7-5 last Tuesday.
Returning home for two games against Mainland Division teams, the Silverbacks dispatched the Coquitlam Express 6-0 on Saturday, and tied Chilliwack 4-4 in a Sunday matinee. Summer-signing, Brett Stewart scored his first goal in a ’Backs’ sweater from the blue line with a man advantage, and Nick Hutchison and Ross Heidt also picked up goals in the first period.
The Centennials’ offence fizzled out in the second period, and the Silverbacks capitalized when Carson Bolduc struck twice drawing level at five.
Early on in the third period, Marcus Mitchell scored his first career BCHL goal, which ended up being the eventual game winner.
Heidt added an insurance goal for the Silverbacks, his second of the game.
On Saturday evening, Angus Redmond picked up his first shutout of the season in an impressive display of offence by the Silverbacks. Matty Saharchuk scored just over three minutes into the contest and the gorillas never looked back, as Josh Blanchard, Bolduc and Heidt hit the Express for four straight power-play goals, before Hutchison wrapped up the scoring in the third period.
The ’Backs offence rifled an impressive 62 shots on Coquitlam’s starting goaltender Tyger Howat, while the Express were only able to muster 19 shots themselves.
Taro Hirose, Bolduc and Heidt started the game against Chilliwack for the ’Backs, arguably one of the league’s best lines so far this season, combining for 17 points in just three games.
Getting the nod in goal for Salmon Arm was Zach Dyment, and he was busy from the start of the game, shutting the door on a Chiefs breakaway only 30 seconds into the game.
Just a minute-and-a-half after Chilliwack opened up a 2-0 lead before the midway point in the period, goals from Saharchuk and Heidt tied the game.
Saharchuk’s goal was the result of a relentless forecheck led by workhorse Colton Thibault, which led to a Chilliwack mistake and a bit of luck as Saharchuk found the net from a nearly impossible angle in the corner.
Blink and you would miss Heidt’s league- leading sixth goal of the season scored on a two-on-one with Bolduc, only 36 seconds after Saharchuk’s goal.
Chilliwack would score once more in the period, which led to Dyment being pulled after giving up three goals on only six shots.
On the power-play, California import, Jared Turcotte scored his first BCHL goal, levelling the score at three. After the high-octane start to the game, play in the second period slowed down and Chilliwack looked to sit on their one-goal lead after Jordan Kawaguchi put them ahead 4-3.
With six minutes left in the game, Hutchison scored an equalizer, which breathed life back ion the game.
Overtime was needed to decide the game, but after 10 minutes and several great saves by both Redmond and Aidan Pelino, the game ended tied 4-4, with both teams splitting the two points. The ’Backs head to Chilliwack to face Surrey and Alberni Valley on Thursday and Friday in the Bauer BCHL Showcase before returning home to face the Wenatchee Wild on Friday, Oct. 2.