After splitting the first two of three games on the final weekend before the BCHL Christmas break, the Salmon Arm SilverBacks moved up one place in the Interior Conference standings and were six points behind fifth-place Vernon going into Sunday’s game against the Powell River Kings.
Salmon Arm defeated the Merritt Centennials 5-3 Friday night in Merritt but dropped a 4-1 decision to the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday night at home.
At Nicola Valley Arena against the Cents on Friday, the ’Backs found themselves down a goal after one but scored twice in the second and three times in the third, including a pair by first star Morgan Zulinick, to pull off the victory.
“I was very happy with our group as a whole,” said ’Backs coach Colin O’Hara. “I thought that was as close to 60 minutes for us as we’ve had all year.”
Myles McCauley continued the process of rediscovering his offensive touch with an unassisted goal in the second to get Salmon Arm on the board and followed that up with a goal on a deflection.
“He started shooting the puck and was dominant in the offensive zone,” said O’Hara. “He probably could have had three or four (goals).”
Devin Muller, in his final game before heading off to try out for Switzerland for the upcoming World Junior Championships, was held scoreless and Brett Knowles tied him for the team lead in scoring after a goal and an assist on the weekend. Each player had 34 points prior to Sunday’s game.
Adam Clark made 34 saves against the Cents to earn his second win of the season. He has now won his last two starts after beginning the year 0-6.
Coming back to Sunwave Centre Saturday night to host the Chiefs, only Knowles was able to beat netminder Mitch Gillam. Malcolm Gould scored a natural hat trick in the second period for the visitors who never trailed in the game.
Salmon Arm had no answer for the trio of Gould, Derek Huisman and David Bondra. Each of Gould’s three goals saw the other two players draw assists on the play and Huisman added a goal of his own with 16 seconds left in the third to cap off a four-point game.
“It’s kind of been the tale with us and Chilliwack; they’ve had our number,” said O’Hara. “I can’t fault the effort on the first two goals but we backchecked too far and left guys alone in the slot. We made three glaring errors and they scored on each of them.
Kurt Williams made 26 saves in the Salmon Arm crease.
After Sunday’s game against Powell River, Salmon Arm doesn’t play again until Thursday, Dec. 29 when they host the Vernon Vipers at 7 p.m.
“I really want our guys to enjoy family and friends and get their minds off (hockey) for the first few days (of the break),” said O’Hara. “I think the break is going to be healthy, especially on the mental side. Hopefully we can make a real push in the second half.”