The Silverbacks and Trail Smoke Eaters will meet tonight in the West Kootenay at 7pm, less than 24 hours after Salmon Arm fell 4-2 in front of a crowd of more than 2-thousand in downtown Trail in Game 1 of the Best-of-7 Round 1 Interior division quarter-final.
The visitors opened the scoring on Friday and on the power-play courtesy of Nathan Iannone with his first of the playoffs and third of the season at 4:52 of the first period. The Silverbacks took that 1-0 lead into the second period, the opening period included 9 minor penalties. Trail lead 11-8 on the shot clock in the first 20 minutes. The home team scored twice in the middle frame, Luke Santerno’s first of the post-season and 34th at 5:08 and Trail went ahead 2-1 with it’s first lead of the game at 7:31 as Smoke Eaters captain and former Silverback Connor Brown-Maloski potted his 16th and first of the playoffs at 7:31.
Trail outshot the Silverbacks 11-8 and lead 2-1 into the third. The Smoke Eaters increased their lead to 3-1 at 4:01 of the third, Kale Howarth’s 31st of the season and first of the post-season. Former Silverback Josh Laframboise scored his 26th and first of the playoffs with Nic Tallarico on the bench at 19:53. But with less than 7 seconds remaining, Carson Bolduc finished the scoring with his 20th and first of the playoffs at 19:53.
The Silverbacks lead 13-7 on the shot clock in the final period, 29-29 total. Linden Marshall stopped 27 of 29 shots in the win. Salmon Arm’s power-play was 1-for-4, and the penalty-kill was 4-for-4. Friday’s loss was the first for the Silverbacks since the 15th of February, 4-3 at home to the Warriors. Merritt won 6-5 in West Kelowna in the other Interior series which opened on Friday.
Former Silverbacks Josh Laframboise and Carter Cochrane were dealt to Trail earlier in 2016-2017, as well as Smoke Eaters captain Connor Brown-Maloski and goaltender Zach Dyment are also former Silverbacks. Cochrane assisted on the 2 Trail goals in the second period on Friday. The Silverbacks have affiliate forwards Dan Fisher and Brett Didyk in the lineup this weekend.
The 18-year-old Fisher out of Calgary, AB played in 6 Silverbacks regular season games, and had his KIJHL season with the Revelstoke Grizzlies end on Thursday night with a Game 5 loss at the Chase Heat. The 17-year-old Didyk is with the Vancouver North East Chiefs in the BC Major Midget League, and played in 4 regular season games with Salmon Arm.
The Smoke Eaters finished alone in third in the Interior regular season standings, with a record of 26-26-1-5 and just 4 points ahead of Salmon Arm. The Silverbacks won 2 of the 7 regular season meetings with the Smoke Eaters who outscored Salmon Arm 29-22. The Silverbacks won 6-3 in Trail on January 6th and 7-2 at home over the Smoke Eaters on December 3rd.
The division rivals finished the season series with a 1-1 tie at the Shaw Centre on February 7th. The Smoke Eaters won 5-2 in Salmon Arm on January 7th, Trail won 10-3 at home over the Silverbacks on November 8th, the Smoke Eaters doubled Salmon Arm 4-2 in Trail on October 28th, and Trail opened the season series with a 4-1 victory in the West Kootenay on October 11th.
The top 2 teams in the Interior, the Penticton Vees who finished with a record of 41-13-1-3 and the Vernon Vipers at 30-19-4-5 each receive a first round playoff bye, as the opening round in the Interior will feature the third ranked team versus the sixth and fourth versus fifth.
The Best-of-7, Round 1 series will shift into the Shuswap next week for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 7th and 8th and each 7pm starts at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. Games 5, 6 and 7 if needed are set for March 10th, 11th, 12th with Saturday the 11th a 7pm face-off at the Shaw Centre.