The playoff-bound Salmon Arm Silverbacks pulled off a win in their last regular-season game to earn home-ice advantage in the first round.
When the dust had settled in their last weekend of regular season play, the Salmon Arm BCHL squad came out on top of the three-team pileup all chasing third place in the Interior division.
The ‘Backs finished with a win over the Merritt Centennials, who were bringing up the rear of the division for much of the season, on Feb. 23. The 3-2 victory in front of the home crowd was just enough to propel the Silverbacks into third place, ahead of the Wenatchee Wild and Vernon Vipers who had virtually identical records to end the season.
The bottom teams in the Island and Mainland divisions cross over to play Interior squads in the opening round of the playoffs, so the Silverbacks’ next opponents will be the Victoria Grizzlies. The first games in the series will be held on Feb. 28 and 29 at the Shaw Centre before the series heads to the Island on March 2 and 3. Games five and seven are scheduled for Salmon Arm and game six will be in Victoria.
Silverbacks GM Brooks Christensen said this is the first time the ‘Backs have had home ice advantage to kick off the playoffs since the 2010-2011 season.
Christensen said the win to end the season and first-round home-ice advantage are both very big for the Silverbacks.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of it and really put the pressure on Victoria,” he said.
Playoff tickets are on sale at the Maximum Edge Hockey shop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday this week. Season ticket holders’ tickets will be held until noon on game days and then they will be released to the public.
“Hopefully we can pack the barn on Friday night,” Christensen said.
Some seats in the Shaw Centre will be ful of young hockey fans who got in for free. The Silverbacks announced that all kids in Kindergarten to Grade 8 will get free admission to Games one and two of the playoffs. The free admission is courtesy of Blackburn Excavating Ltd. Kids wanting to attend will still have to get tickets printed at Maximum Edge.