Two points is all that separates the Silverbacks and Centennials in the standings after a strong weekend showing by Salmon Arm.
The ’Backs opened up their three-game week at the Shaw Centre, hosting the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Trail broke out to a two-goal lead in the second period before Bryden Marsh cut the visitors lead in half.
The Silverbacks only had one power play in the game and Carson Bolduc took full advantage of the extra man, as he scored on a feed from Taro Hirose, tying the game at two-a-piece.
With two minutes left in the game, Marsh scored the game winner and his second of the night.
The win against Trail increased Salmon Arm’s winning streak to six games, their longest this season.
Last Friday the ’Backs made the hour-and-a-half trip to West Kelowna to face the Warriors, a week since defeating them 7-1 at the Shaw Centre.
Josh Blanchard scored the opening goal of the game 17 seconds into the second frame. Ross Heidt and Bryden Marsh picked up the assists on the scoring play.
West Kelowna stole the lead before the midway point of the game with goals coming from Jonathan Desbiens and Andrew Johnson.
Seconds after Shane Danyluk’s penalty ended, Angus Redmond made a vital glove save at the top of his crease stopping the Warriors Tanner Campbell, keeping the ’Backs within one goal.
The Silverbacks responded and Blanchard scored his second of the game, tying the game at two.
Heidt worked his way into the zone before firing a shot on net, Blanchard found the loose puck in the slot and fired in the equalizer.
With 32 seconds remaining in the second period, the Warriors once again restored their one-goal lead courtesy of Jordan Masters.
West Kelowna would go on to win 3-2 after a scoreless third period.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities on the man advantage but failed to capitalize, each going zero for five.
The Silverbacks looked to rebound against the Prince George Spruce Kings after their first loss in seven games.
Early on Redmond looked solid. He was at the top of his crease aggressively challenging every shot, and controlled his rebounds giving up very few second and third chances to Prince George.
Marsh, Heidt and Blanchard provided an offensive spark, their quick transition up the ice and gritty work along the boards hemmed the Spruce Kings in their own zone.
“They have played together for a while now and I think their success can be attributed directly to their work ethic,” said West.
“You can see them gaining confidence and having fun out there, and that makes it difficult for other teams to defend.”
Despite the pressure from the Marsh line, they couldn’t find a breakthrough.
The game’s first goal came at 11:18 of the first period when Taro Hirose picked the pocket of the Spruce Kings defenceman Alex Stoley.
Hirose broke in all alone and coolly deeked out Alex Brooks-Potts, beating him up high on the backhand.
The ’Backs kept their foot on the gas and peppered the Spruce Kings net minder throughout the rest of the first and second period, but failed to increase their lead.
In the final 30 seconds of the middle frame, emotions got the better of both teams as eight penalties were handed out at the end of the period.
With a two-man advantage to start the third period, Prince George scored two goals, jumping out to a 2-1 lead, only a minute into the final frame.
Despite being down a goal, Salmon Arm still controlled the game offensively and midway through the third period Thomas Plese scored his fifth of the season, knotting the game at two.
Michael Buonincontri silenced the Shaw Centre 11 seconds after Plese’s marker, restoring the visitors one-goal lead.
Shane Danyluk tied the game at three, 30 seconds after serving a questionable penalty for tripping with six minutes remaining in the game.
Shortly after Danyluk’s goal, Buonincontri was sprung on a break away, but a confident Redmond challenged the Spruce Kings sniper and shut the door.
“Angus is settling into his game, he’s still young at only 19 and has been the starter now for half the season,” said West.
“His confidence level is growing game by game and with Dyment pushing him to earn the starting position it’s great to see.”
The game looked like it was headed to overtime when the Silverbacks lost an offensive zone face-off with less than 10 seconds left.
However, a strong forecheck by Marsh lead to the game-winning goal by Blanchard with 0.7 seconds left on the clock, giving the ’Backs the 4-3 win.
“When a game is heated and played with intensity you’re going to have to battle through some things you may not agree with, but getting the win showed our groups resilience,” West said.
Saturday night was also the trade deadline in the BCHL.
Salmon Arm GM, Troy Mick took an active roll in trade deadline day acquiring defenceman Anthony Gardner from Coquitlam for futures.
Mick also traded forward Karl El-Mir to the Grand Prairie Storm in the AJHL for future considerations.
The Silverbacks travel to Prince George tomorrow evening, then return to the Shaw Centre to host the two best Island teams, Nanaimo and Powell River over the weekend.
West says they are looking forward to hosting Nanaimo and Powell River this weekend, but says they have to first focus on Prince George.
“As a coach you want to look forward to the big games, but we have to take it one game at a time.”
With more players set to return from injury this week, players will be forced to fight for ice time within the team, which West says will help make the ’Backs more competitive come game time.