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Series Preview: Silverbacks vs. Warriors

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Westside Warriors are set to begin their second round playoff series Friday night at Sunwave Centre and both teams have had a bit of time off before the match-up begins.

Westside had a shorter break after finishing just four points below the Silverbacks in league standings and having to play their way into the second round.

The Warriors beat out the Trail Smoke Eaters in the elimination round of playoffs, taking the series with three straight wins and giving themselves a three day break before having to face the Silverbacks.

Salmon Arm on the other hand, had a longer two week break with a bye into the second round after finishing their regular season with a 40-17-1-2 record.

“Hopefully the layoff has done us some good,” said Silverbacks head coach Rylan Ferster. “We had some injuries that needed the time to heal.”

Though it hasn't been all relaxing.

“We adjusted the practices with a couple different things to make them as game-like as possible; it's pretty much business as usual,” said Ferster.

He says that his team won' be changing the way they approach games for playoffs.

“Our team has been pretty good from the goaltending forward all season,” he said. “Our defence is pretty solid, for the most part we make sure we’re under three goals against; that was our goal for the season and still is for playoffs.”

“I think people are in for a treat the two teams match up pretty well,” said Ferster. “We finished four points ahead but that doesn't really mean anything. They got stronger down the stretch and just won three straight so they're are as hot as anyone right now.”

Ferster isn't the only one who is thinking that way. After splitting wins all season, both coaches believe the series will be a good match up.

“This should be the fastest series in the league so far. Both teams have some great young forwards,” said Warriors head coach Mark Howell. “It'll be very entertaining with lots of everything, and especially fast.”

Howell said that some of his Warriors are a bit “playoff scarred and some young guys are learning what it takes to play in playoffs.”

But he isn't too worried; he says one of his team’s biggest assets is their depth at every position.

“Our goaltender is one of the best in the league. Our defence are offensive but they also understand their roles, we have high quality centremen that come back and a strong understanding that this isn't a two-line team.” “

“Westside is a good team with a lot of depth,” says Salmon Arm broadcaster Patrick Hass. “Salmon Arm's weakness might be depth, their top lines can do things other teams can't but when you have such strong first and second lines it's hard to keep it balanced with the third and fourth.”

Haas says that because both teams have a number of veteran players, the difference between the two comes down to their depth and high impact players.

“Both teams have experienced defencemen that have played in the league for at least three years,” he said. “It's going to come down to whose game breakers are going to play the best.”

Other than game-breakers the difference in rest periods may play a role in the series but Haas isn't sure if the differences in time off are going to impact the overall outcome of the series.

“Initially it may be Westside because they’re already in playoff mode, but later I can see it shifting to Salmon Arm because of the time they had off.”

He added that time off maybe a factor in players recuperating from injuries.

Brent Mutis, Silverbacks beat reporter for the Salmon Arm Observer, says “Westside went in to playoffs on a real role and they kept momentum going during the first round of playoffs. They've also gone through the pressure cooker with a couple games going into overtime. Salmon Arm might take a bit to get their legs back under them.”

Salmon Arm's strength is clearly their offense, says Mutis.

“You have three of the top 10 scores in the league right there,” he said. “And defenceman Ashford McMaster crept toward the league’s top 20 throughout the season.”

According to Westside broadcaster Kevin Parnell, the Warriors biggest strength is team play and depth while the Silverbacks play off a very strong offensive presence. But for him the biggest difference comes down to style.

“Westside is more of a grind it out type of team, they're all about work ethic,” he said, adding that Salmon Arm's strongest attributes are their top offensive lines. “Salmon Arm's offense is skilled. They also have quick transitions and a good power play. They can really hurt you with their offence.”

That offence was led during the regular season by Mark Zengerle, Conor Morrison and Keenan Desmet, who all ranked in the league's top ten point scoring in second, fourth and ninth place respectively posting 93, 84, and 68 points.