Thursday, 3 March 2016

Warriors/Silverbacks SERIES PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm Silverbacks are set to begin their first round playoff series tonight with Game 1 at Royal Lepage Place
 The Teams
·       West Kelowna Warriors – (38-17-1-2) – 79 Points – 2nd BCHL Interior
·       Salmon Arm Silverbacks – (29-20-4-5) – 67 Points – 3rd BCHL Interior
The Schedule
·       Game 1 – Friday March 4th  - West Kelowna – 7:00 PM
·       Game 2 – Saturday March 5th – West Kelowna – 7:00 PM
·       Game 3 – Monday March 7th – Salmon Arm – 7:00 PM
·       Game 4 – Tuesday March 8th – Salmon Arm – 7:00 PM
·       Game 5 – Friday March 11th – West Kelowna – 7:00 PM (If Necessary)
·       Game 6 – Saturday March 12th – Salmon Arm – 7:00 PM (If Necessary)
·       Game 7 – Sunday March 13th – West Kelowna – 7 PM (If Necessary)
Goaltending will be an interesting story to follow throughout this first round series, as both teams sport a legitimate #1 goaltender that is 20-years-old. The interesting part of this story is the amount of time each of the 20 year olds have seen the opposition this season. While Matthew Greenfield was only acquired in mid-December, Angus Redmond has been manning the crease for the Silverbacks for the last two seasons. Redmond has only appeared in three of the six games against West Kelowna this season, while Greenfield has a pair of victories against the Silverbacks
West Kelowna
Matthew Greenfield
2.09 GAA
.938 SV%
Keelan Williams
3.38 GAA
.893 SV%
Salmon Arm
Angus Redmond
3.05 GAA
.904 SV%
Brandon Kegler
3.09 GAA
.910 SV%
Vs. Salmon Arm
Matthew Greenfield
1.00 GAA
.972 SV%
Keelan Williams
2.81 GAA
.909 SV%
Vs. West Kelowna
Angus Redmond
4.40 GAA
.883 SV%
Brandon Kegler
3.00 GAA
.916 SV%
West Kelowna
The Warriors do not boast a 20-year-old on the backend like they did last season with Tyler Kunz and Braeden Jones. The experience they do have on the backend, mixed with the young talent in Jake Harrison is a good mix on the blueline. Tyler Anderson was the Warriors Most Improved Player when the Awards were handed out last week, while Scott Allan has been steady throughout the year. Add in scholarships for Nick Rutiglano and Rylan Yaremko that were earned this season, and this is a solid group on the blueline.
Salmon Arm
Three 20-year-olds on the backend gives the Salmon Arm Silverbacks the edge when it comes to age on the blueline. Ayrton Nikkel has pro experience this season with the ECHL Allen Americans, but its his emotions that could make a difference in this series. Nikkel took five minors against the Warriors in two games that he faced them this year, but expect him to play hard-nosed defense against whichever Warriors forward group he’s matched against.
It will be interesting to see if Ryley Booth is back in the lineup for Game 1, as he missed the final game against the Warriors last week. For the Silverbacks to have success in this series, Phil Middleton and Damian Chrcek need to play big, hard, successful minutes on the Salmon Arm defense corp.
West Kelowna
The Warriors are lead up front by 44 goal scorer Jonathan Desbiens, who finished just shy of the most points in a single-season in Warriors history. He did set the goals mark, however, while Kylar Hope exploded this season on the offensive side of the puck, putting up 74 points while playing in every game for the second straight season. Add in Brett Mennear, and the Warriors trio is playing with great confidence. Liam Blackburn added 74 points of his own, it’s his linemates of Jake LeBrun and Garrett Forster who seem to have created some top-line chemistry. The depth is there for West Kelowna, as it is for the Silverbacks as well, when you look at Bryan Basilico, Kyle Marino, and Connor Sodergren seeing big minutes, and the fourth unit has seen some success recently as well, lead by the 13 goals from Quin Foreman, and 25 assists from Reed Gunville.
Salmon Arm
Lead by 71 points from Taro Hirose (including 56 assists), the Salmon Arm Silverbacks enjoyed success on the offensive side of the puck this season. Scoring 227 goals this season, the Silverbacks ranked 5th in that category this season, and finished with a +43 differential. The Silverbacks leading player in goals was 33 goal scorer Ross Heidt, while Chase Zieky scored 28. Carson Bolduc was just one of four ‘Backs to reach the twenty goal plateau, as their scoring was spread out amongst the lineup.
Special Teams
These two teams are very evenly matched on the Special Teams side of things heading into the series, as the Warriors sit 3rd on the power play, with the Silverbacks 4th. On the Penalty Kill side, West Kelowna has seen their percentage increase over the last two months, and finished the regular season with the 4th best mark. Salmon Arm sits just 3% back of West Kelowna, but is ranked 9th when a man short.
In the season series West Kelowna went 8 for 28 on the man advantage, while the Silverbacks went 7 for 38.
Overall Preview

Many say this will be one of the hardest fought first round series in the BCHL this season. As was shown last weekend in the Warriors final Regular Season game, this looks to be a very physical series where special teams could play a big role. It will be interesting to see how the officials let this series play out, and see where the line is drawn, as each team is going to try and toe the line. Buckle up. This one is going to be fun.

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