Garrett James Photography

Key Silverbacks players in the drive for first in the Vernon pod

 

With the back half of the season here, it’s time for Salmon Arm to buckle down.

The Vernon pod is currently led by the Vipers but is not out of grasp for the Silverbacks if they prove true to their ability and post a strong second half to the season.

The team is averaging well over three goals a game and currently leads the Vernon pod in goals. The irony here is they are also leading the pod in goals-against by a landslide. Defensively is where Salmon Arm needs to discipline itself as it’s proving to be the team’s biggest weakness.

The Silverbacks need more players to step up and play their role, as right now, a pair of forwards are leading the charge.

Forwards stepping up to the plate

One player who has certainly stepped up to the plate is second-year forward Simon Tassy. A recent matchup on Apr. 18 with West Kelowna saw Salmon Arm take a 6-5 shootout decision. Tassy notched his second BCHL hat trick and added an assist for a four-point night.

As of this writing, Tassy has gathered 20 points across 14 outings and is sitting at 1.43 points per game. His individual efforts this season have proved him to be one of the best players on the ice in every matchup. When watching the Silverbacks, keep an eye out for #11.

An unexpected player who has risen to the occasion in his rookie year is 2003-born forward Noah Serdachny. As a freshman, Serdachny has taken no time in adjusting to the level of play. He is a puck-smart, skilled forward who generates a lot offensively for the Silverbacks.

Serdachny leads the team in assists with 14 and has 20 points, which ties him with Tassy. This is a rookie who was recruited in the offseason and has quickly proven himself. Serdachny has been centering the Silverbacks second line with Tassy on the right and Sullivan Mack to his left.

Together the line is quite the threat, posting a combined 57 points so far this season.

Defence holding down the house

Captain Hunter Sansbury has been a key player for the Silverbacks on the blueline. He scored in an overtime loss to Vernon on Apr. 14 and added seven assists, totalling eight points on the season.

As a leader, the veteran needs to headman the defensive line. The Silverbacks need to lower their goals-against ratio which appears to be their main area of weakness. That being said, it appears rookie defensemen Joaquim Lemay and Tucker Hartmann are proving solid under Sansbury’s wing.

Lemay is a 2002-born rookie blueliner this season who has played a strong role for the Silverbacks defensive corps. Despite not scoring a goal yet, he currently leads all d-men in points with 10 – all assists. Four have come on the power play, which seems to have success with Lemay quarterbacking it.

Alongside Lemay is Hartmann. He has posted three goals and five assists in 14 outings so far and has definitely stepped up to the plate. Hartmann is beginning to look more comfortable on the ice and taking more offensive chances, like the one on his first BCHL goal.

Game plan for the home stretch

Salmon Arm currently holds second place in the Vernon pod and will look to secure first place with only six games left in the season. The Silverbacks have a 5-2-0 record against West Kelowna, which is promising, but they will need to capitalize on the last three games against the Warriors with hopes to achieve first.

One more loss to West Kelowna could mean the difference between the Backs or Vernon securing the top spot in the pod.

The true challenge of course is their rival Vernon Vipers. The Vipers are a strong team this season, showing l that they deserve that first place spot if they clinch it. They hold a 6-1 record against Salmon Arm, which needs to see Salmon Arm securing these last three games to lessen their gap.

The good news is, out of their seven matchups together thus far, four have gone into extra time to decide a winner. This shows the Silverbacks can compete against the Vipers, and if they want to nab first place, they will need to shut the Snakes down for the rest of the season.