BCHL Midweek Matchup: Silverbacks vs. Rivermen

Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications

Tonight – Salmon Arm Silverbacks (18-23-3-1) at Langley Rivermen (20-13-10-2)
7 p.m. at George Preston Arena in Langley
Presented by the BCIHL

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Previous Meetings

On Oct. 10 in Salmon Arm, the Silverbacks won the only previous meeting between the teams this season by a score of 7-6 in overtime. Langley led 4-2 going into the third period, when the Silverbacks scored three straight goals to take a 5-4 lead. With under five minutes left, the teams exchanged goals 32 seconds apart, then, with the goalie pulled, Rivermen forward Angus Crookshank scored his second goal of the game with four seconds left in the period to tie the game at six and force overtime. Salmon Arm got a power play late in the first overtime period and forward Nick Unruh scored his third goal of the game with under a minute left to give his team the win. Ten players in total had multi-point games, including Unruh who was named the game’s first star after recording a hat trick and Crookshank who added an assist to his two-goal performance and was the second star of the game.

Who’s Hot

Salmon Arm forward Justin Wilson is riding a four-game point streak, with five goals and two assists over that stretch. Silverbacks forward Rhett Kingston is tied for 11th in BCHL goal scoring with 20. He also leads his team in assists, with 20, and points, with 40. Tanner Campbell is the team’s second-leading scorer with 23 points (8-15-23) and Grayson Constable is third with 22 points (6-16-22). Defencemen Riley Hayles and Akito Hirose lead the offense from the back end with 19 points (3-16-19) each. Silverbacks goaltender Reid Cooper has a record of 4-3-0, with a save percentage of .902 and one shutout in nine appearances since coming over from the Coquitlam Express midseason.

Brendan Budy is Langley’s leading scorer with 41 points (15-26-41) in 37 games. His 15 goals are tied for the team lead with teammate Angus Crookshank. Crookshank is the team’s second leading scorer with 32 points (15-17-32) in 30 games. Budy and Crookshank will be both out of the lineup tonight because they’re away for the CJHL Prospect Game in Mississauga, Ont. John Wojciechowski and Eric Butte will be the team’s top scorers in the lineup tonight, with 26 and 25 points respectively. Carter Stephenson and Colin Bernard lead the team in points from the blueline with 21 each. Rivermen goalie Braedon Fleming is ninth in the BCHL in goals against average at 2.69 and tied for tenth in save percentage at .907. He has a record of 17-17-1 and ranks first in the league in minutes and games played.

What’s at Stake

Langley sits in third place in the Mainland Division with 52 points, but could move into a three-way tie with the Prince George Spruce Kings and the Surrey Eagles, who are currently tied for first place with 54 points. The Rivermen are also five points clear of the fourth-place Chilliwack Chiefs.

Salmon Arm is the sixth-place team in the Interior Division with 40 points. They trail the fifth-place West Kelowna Warriors by six points and lead the last-place Merritt Centennials by two, although Merritt has two games in hand.

Coaches Comments

Langley Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson on what to expect from the Silverbacks tonight:

“We’re kind of going in with an open mind. They’ve made a bunch of changes here as the season’s progressed. They’ve been playing pretty good hockey, so we’re taking (the last game between the teams) as a one-off. We’ll go through our typical pre-scout and just make sure that we’re prepared to play our game.

“We’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities. This time of year, obviously, goals are harder to come by. We need to make things tough for the other team’s forwards and make sure we’re hitting and getting pucks up to our forwards in a hurry and try to generate offense from the back end.”

Henderson on trying to get his team to win more consistently and re-take the division lead:

“I think if you look (at the last month), we’ve had guys gone for the World Junior A Challenge and, like other teams, we’ve had different injuries at different times. Really, we just need to get everybody in the lineup. We’ve had guys step up in their absence and they’ve been good, we’ve played good hockey throughout that stretch. For us, more than anything, it’s just taking every game with the same approach and getting prepared and sticking with our process.”

Salmon Arm Silverbacks head coach Scott Atkinson on tonight’s matchup against Langley:

“I think they’re a really good team and they’re well-coached. They have a lot of talent. That’s the fun part about coaching in this league, every game’s a challenge and you’ve got to be ready to go.

“We have to focus on what we do. That means we have to play a heavier brand of the puck-possession game and try to play with as much speed as possible and be grittier and hard to play against. Playing good defense, that’s what’s been working for us and I don’t think there’s any secret that our group needs to be committed defensively if we’re going to be successful.”

Atkinson on his team’s position in the division standings:

“Obviously we’d like to move up. We’re on ‘we need to win every game mode.’ Basically, playoffs started earlier for us and we’re trying to make the playoffs, so we have to treat every game with playoff intensity if we’re going to make the playoffs. We’re working hard at trying to make ourselves more consistent and play with that ‘gotta win tonight’ attitude.”

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.