With the Vernon Vipers out of the playoffs, the Salmon Arm SilverBacks may be the team of choice for local diehard B.C. Hockey League fans looking for a March cheering fix.
The SilverBacks hold down the fourth and final playoff berth in the Interior Conference, two points ahead of the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Trail finishes the regular season Sunday against the visiting Penticton Vees. Salmon Arm visits the Merritt Centennials Friday night and face the Spruce Kings Saturday night in Prince George.
Forwards Alex Gillies, Harlan Orr and Alex Jewell are Vernon products with the SilverBacks, who are coached by Enderby’s Scott Robinson and managed by Vernon’s Troy Mick.
Robinson hopes to clinch a playoff spot before the Smokies’ final game.
“We don’t really want to have to watch their (Trail) game. We have to find a way to get a couple points, or technically one point. We don’t want to watch hockey (on Sunday); Trail has the tie breaker.”
Orr netted his 10th goal of the season Sunday as the Gorillas erased a 3-0 deficit and clipped the Express before 775 fans in Coquitlam. Gillies, who has 21 goals and 47 points, earned three assists.
Gillies and Orr each scored once as the SilverBacks bowed 6-3 to the Bulldogs before 1,400 fans Saturday night in Port Alberni. The SilerBacks won a 6-5 OT thriller Friday night in Powell River.
Said Robinson: “It’s not the way you draw it up but for sure, you’ve got to think that it’s a successful weekend considering the nature of the games and the comebacks; we haven’t done that all year.”
Vernon’s Jedd Soleway registered his 19th goal of the season as Penticton held off the Smokies 5-4 in front of 1,200 fans Saturday night in Trail. Soleway has 45 points.
In South Surrey, former Viper Adam Tambellini reached the 36-goal mark with two snipes as the Eagles upended the Cowichan Valley Capitals 6-2 before 1,200 fans.
The Vipers visit the Cents Wednesday night before ending a second straight non-playoff season with home tilts against Penticton (Friday) and Merritt (Saturday).
Vernon net detective Conor Barrie went 4-14-2-1 with the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior League.
The 20-year-old started the season with the Yorkton Terriers of the SAJHL (2-2) after going 6-3-1 with Surrey last year. Pickering missed the playoffs.