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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Host ‘Backs For First Meeting Of The Season

PHOTO: Julie Pringle/Snap Photography

The West Kelowna Warriors return home to face-off against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the first time this season at Royal LePage Place on Saturday night.

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Warriors vs. Silverbacks 2016/17 Season:

Friday, October 7th @ Royal LePage Place (5-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, October 14th @ Shaw Centre (5-4 Silverbacks/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, October 15th @ Royal LePage Place (6-4 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 2nd @ Shaw Centre (4-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, December 6th @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, February 15th @ Shaw Centre (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, February 25th @ Shaw Centre (5-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Warriors vs. Silverbacks 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, October 7th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Sunday, October 22nd @ Shaw Centre (3:00 PM)

Wednesday, November 8th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Saturday, January 20th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, February 2nd @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 24th @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)

The Warriors and Silverbacks squared off against one another seven times during the 2016/17 with the ‘Backs winning five of those seven meetings. Salmon Arm won every game played at Royal LePage Place between the two squads while the Warriors split the schedule at the Shaw Centre with two wins and two losses in what was a very tight scoring and close season series.

West Kelowna enters play on Saturday after a 5-4 overtime victory on Wednesday night against the Coquitlam Express on the Lower Mainland. Cavin Tilsley, RJ Murphy, Chase Dubois and Jared Marino scored for the Warriors before the Express tied the game late in the third period with two goals in 27 seconds. Bennett Norlin was the hero with his first BCHL goal in overtime while Nik Amundrud turned aside 32 of the 36 shots he faced in the game for his 3rd victory of the season.

Warriors Leading Scorers:

Matt Kowalski (5-4-9)

Jared Marino (3-5-8)

Chase Dubois (3-4-7)

Michael Ryan (1-6-7)

Cavin Tilsley (3-3-6)

The Warriors penalty kill was again, as it has been over the course of the regular season, stellar as they went 7/7 when shorthanded, increasing their penalty killed streak to 7 straight games. Also of note in those 7 games, the Warriors are a perfect 31/31 and have risen to the top of the BCHL rankings in the PK department with an impressive 92.1%.

Offense for the Warriors over the past pair of games has come from a pair of veterans up front in the form of their captain Jared Marino and Cavin Tilsley. Marino has five points in his last two games with a goal and four assists while Tilsley is coming off of back-to-back three point games with three goals and three assists. Their line mate, Bennett Norlin, had a strong night in Coquitlam on Wednesday with tallying his first career BCHL goal and adding an assist as well.

Keeping the puck out of the net has been a category the Warriors have been strong in for a few seasons but this season has shown some even stronger play on the defensive side of the puck. West Kelowna, along with the league’s best penalty kill, sits in 4th place in the BCHL in goals against at just 22, one behind the Powell River Kings for 3rd spot and three behind the Wenatchee Wild, who sit in 2nd with 19 goals against while the Penticton Vees lead the league at 12 goals against but have played the fewest games with six.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks come into Saturday night’s action sitting 6th in the Interior Division with a 4-5-0-0 record and most recently are coming off of a 7-4 victory on home ice against the Merritt Centennials. Tanner Campbell scored twice while Grayson Constable, Rhett Kingston, Trey Thomas, Marcus Mitchell and Nick Unruh added singles in the win. Bo Didur got the start in the ‘Backs net making 18 saves on 22 shots for his 2nd victory of the season.

Silverbacks Leading Scorers:

Rhett Kingston (6-3-9)

Tanner Campbell (2-6-8)

Justin Wilson (2-6-8)

Marcus Mitchell (3-4-7)

Josh Latta (4-2-6)

The Silverbacks come back from a season ago with plenty of experience in their lineup and 11 returnees including captain and forward Grayson Constable, Ryan Hogg, Justin Wilson, Marcus Mitchell and Josh Latta while on defense Julian Timba, Max Wutzke, Spencer Hora, Riley Hayles and Akito Hirose return to the Silverbacks. Salmon Arm made plenty of moves in the offseason to bring in BCHL-experienced talent with former Warriors Tanner Campbell and Logan Mostat added to the fold and goaltender Bo Didur picked up from the Langley Rivermen along with veteran forward Rhett Kingston from the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Speaking of Kingston, he’s been the hottest Silverback, in terms of offense, as he comes into the night riding a 6-game point streak and has scored in each of the six games he’s played in this season. Former Warrior Campbell has also been helping his team by contributing points in his last three games with two goals and three assists for five points.

It could be a battle, like it was on Wednesday night, with a top-5 power play against the Warriors strong penalty kill. Salmon Arm owns the 5th best man advantage in the league, operating at 23.4% along with scoring twice on Friday night against Merritt. To add to the strong percentage of the power play, the ‘Backs have scored a goal when up a man in five straight contests.

Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM on Saturday at Royal LePage Place between the Warriors and the Silverbacks with tickets available for purchase at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051. If you can’t make it to the rink, the game will be broadcasted live on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 PM with the voice of the Warriors, Trevor Miller.

The Warriors have introduced a new Fan’tatstic Five ticket package that gives fans a chance to experience five of the most highly anticipated games of the season for just $55.55 with games against the Wenatchee Wild, Penticton Vees, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Vernon Vipers and Victoria Grizzlies. For more information on these packs and all ticket info, visit the Warriors office or call (250) 769-7051.

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