Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Salmon Arm Silverbacks (15-22-3-1) at Alberni Valley Bulldogs (11-23-3-4)
7 p.m. Weyerhaeuser Arena in Alberni Valley
Presented by the BCIHL
Salmon Arm defenceman Akito Hirose is on a three-game point streak. He has two goals and three assists over that stretch. Hirose and Riley Hayles lead the team in offense from the back end with 17 points (3-14-17) each. Rhett Kingston leads the Silverbacks with 17 goals, which is tied for 17th most in the BCHL. He also leads the Silverbacks in assists with 18 and points with 35. Salmon Arm goaltender Reid Cooper is tied for ninth in the league with a save percentage of .910. Since joining the Silverbacks from the Coquitlam Express midway through the season, he has a save percentage of .922, a goals-against average of 2.63 and one shutout in seven appearances.
Keaton Mastrodonato is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer now after the trade of Ryan Steele to West Kelowna. He also leads the team with 12 goals. Mitchell Oliver is tied for the most goals by a defenceman in the league with eight and is tied for 13th in points by blueliners with 25. Bulldogs goalie John Hawthorne is 12th in the BCHL with a save percentage of .907. He has a record of 10-16-2 while playing the fifth most minutes in the league in his rookie season.
What’s at Stake
Salmon Arm has earned points in four of their last five games. They’re coming off a 3-3 tie on the road against the Powell River Kings last night. They are in last place in the Interior Division with 34 points, three back of the sixth-place Merritt Centennials and ten back of the fifth-place West Kelowna Warriors.
Alberni Valley has lost four games in a row, including a 3-0 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies on the road last night. They sit in fourth place in the Island Division with 29 points. They’re two points ahead of the Cowichan Valley Capitals for last place in the division.
Alberni Valley head coach Matt Hughes on preparing his team for an opponent they haven’t played this season:
“We’re blessed with the video age right now, so both teams I’m sure have video on each other. We can prepare and look at some tendencies they may have and what their special teams systems may or may not look like. We can show our guys that and make the appropriate adjustments so it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.”
Hughes on the challenges Salmon Arm presents to his team:
“They’re a hard-working, structured team. They come at you good on the forecheck. I think their special teams are dangerous. There’s not a lot of difference in the way teams play in the league, it’s just a matter of level of execution. I think they’re a kind of similar team to us. When they’re on, they’re as good as anybody else, but they just battle the consistency bug like we do. It will be a matter of which team can come out and execute the way they want to play for 60 minutes.”
Hughes on his team’s focus heading into tonight’s game:
“Our biggest thing right now is puck management and decisions we make with it. I think our structure is good in how we’re playing the game right now, we’re just maybe not making the right choices all the time when we do have full control of the puck.”
Salmon Arm head coach Scott Atkinson on facing Alberni Valley tonight:
“They’re a good team and they’re well coached and part of a great league so we’re expecting a challenge. I think it’s the same every time we play, we need to get a full 20-man effort and play hard. We’re trying to play a little bit heavier game and play with some speed. We’re trying to control things defensively and keep their shot total down and try to play faster and heavier.”
Atkinson on his team’s recent success, getting points in four of the last five games:
“I just think we’re getting better. We’re definitely in the middle of a process. Our kids work hard every day at getting better. We think we have a good plan to improve and grow. I think that as you go through the season you hope to see that and we feel like that’s coming true now.”
Atkinson on preparing for a team they haven’t faced yet this year:
“As a first year coach, that pretty well describes every opponent for me. You can watch on video, you can prepare for different players and what appears to be key guys, but it’s always a little bit different when you see them live. To me, the challenge is very similar to the other challenges we’ve faced all year, so I’m looking forward to it.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.