Special to the Review
The Salmon Arm Rona Tier 3 Midget Silverbacks consist of 7 Revelstoke players Grady Powell, David Kline, Sammy Lerose, Jacob Ancell, Lane Bull, Tyson Sessa and goaltender Domenic Donato. The boys joined forces with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks creating a team since the fall of 2018.
This past weekend they travelled to Clearwater to participate in a four-team playoff tournament battling Clearwater, South Okanagan and Winfield with the league championship on the line.
They opened the tournament Saturday morning against host Clearwater and jumped out to an early lead with goals from Grady Powell and Sammy Lerose.
After the Icehawks scored to cut the lead in half, David Kline would net a natural hat-trick to put the Silverbacks up 5-1 and Connor Kociuba sealed the deal with a backhand early in the third to hand Salmon Arm a 6-3 victory.
Rod May was strong in net for the Silverbacks.
It took the Backs most of the first period to get rolling against South Okanagan later that same day but Bradley Hlina’s marker at 7:53 of the opening period opened the flood-gates. Kline, Jacob Ancell on a sweet behind-the-net feed from Caden DeHoog and Lerose all scored as time ticked away in the first to spot the Silverbacks a 4-goal lead deep into the third period. South Okanagan scored late to spoil the shutout for Domenic Donato, but Lincoln Yarama potted an empty netter for Salmon Arm to cap off an impressive 5-1 victory.
Sunday saw their toughest test of the round robin, as they faced off against regular season champs Winfield, who were coming off a surprise defeat at the hands of Clearwater the previous day.
A win for Salmon Arm clinched a berth in the final, while a loss for the Bruins would all but send them home empty handed.
Winfield opened the scoring in the first and added to their lead with a marker early in the second, but the remainder of the period was owned by the Backs. Penalty trouble came early and often in the second for Winfield, and as their frustration mounted, so did the frequency of the trips to the sin-bin.
Yarama would open the scoring for the Backs with the ref’s arm raised on a delayed call, and Kociuba would tie it up just eight seconds later with the goaltender grossly out of position after mishandling the puck.
Tyson Sessa’s point blast would rebound post and then off the goalie’s back to find the back of the net and give the Silverbacks the lead a short while later, but Winfield scrounged a small amount of fight and scored just three minutes later to tie it up.
That sparked the Silverbacks however, as Kociuba would set up Ty Bailey on sweet 2-on-1 just after, and with a defender draped all over him on a breakaway, Kociuba’s backhand would beat the Winfield netminder clean to take a 5-3 lead into the second intermission. Kline would rip a wrister just under the bar and Ancell would snap one between the goalie’s blocker and the post just 9 seconds later to mount and stuff the Bruins for the victory.
Clearwater managed to squeak their way into the final with tie against South Okanagan in their morning game, which set up the final later that afternoon against the Silverbacks.
It was obvious that Clearwater’s game plan was to attack the Backs physically to make up for their lack of scoring depth, but Salmon Arm stood equal to the task, even down a couple key players and facing a hostile home-town crowd.
Yarama would open the scoring in the first, and Hlina would extend the lead with a sharp angle roof snap under the bar just 15 seconds later. The Icehawks would get one back later in the first, but Yarama would regain the two goal lead early in the second, and then snap one past the beleaguered Clearwater netminder for the hat-trick a few moments later. Lerose would push the lead to 5-1 barely a minute later and that seemed to be the final straw for the Icehawks, as they kicked the ‘physicality’ into high gear, one player sitting in the box for a total of 16 minutes in penalties and somehow still not ejected from the game.
The Backs bent in the third, surrendering three unanswered goals to make it interesting, but Powell, Yarama and Ancell found the back of the net to finish off the Icehawks; Clearwater ending the game with a total of 98 minutes in penalties and three players ejected.
The victory for the Silverbacks earned them the title of league champions, and also a spot to represent the region in the provincial championships which start March 17 in Cranbrook. The Silverbacks will face off against teams from the Yukon, Peace River, lower mainland, Vancouver Island and the Kootenays.