Anytime you can take four out of six points on the road playing three games in three days, you’re not going to complain, especially the way things started on Vancouver Island for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
The Gorillas absorbed a 7-2 beating at the hands of the Victoria Grizzlies to begin their road trip but rebounded with a 6-5 overtime win against the Nanaimo Clippers and closed with a 2-1 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
In the eyes of assistant coach Jayson Reardon, a defenceman from last season’s team that is now the only other person behind the bench with Colin O’Hara after Dan Cioffi was dismissed last week, the loss to the Grizzlies was not one for the archives.
“We didn’t have a good period at all, even in the first,” said Reardon, despite the fact Salmon Arm got goals from Kody Dhaliwal and Myles McCauley to take the lead. “We got two early and they scored late which gave them momentum going into the second. We really didn’t compete the whole game at all.”
Once they got rolling, the combination of Wade Murphy and Wesley Myron gave the SilverBacks fits. The duo, who are third and 10th in BCHL scoring respectively, combined for seven points on the night and were named the first and second stars of the game.
Saturday in Nanaimo, again the ’Backs got the first two goals of the game with Garrett Hendrickson and Morgan Zulinick doing the honours. A three-goal second period gave Salmon Arm a 5-2 edge but the Clips had the run of play in the final frame and scored three goals to force overtime.
In the second extra session, defenceman and recent overtime hero Sean Flanagan buried another game-winner for Salmon Arm. Brett Knowles fired a shot with Kody Dhaliwal going to the net but it was Flanagan following up that got the rebound and put it past Billy Faust.
“That’s the type of player he is,” said Reardon.
“He’s good offensively and he’s a really good skater so he’s been using that (skating ability) a little bit more.”
Despite surrendering 50 shots in the game and allowing the Clippers to come back to tie it, Reardon was happy with the bounce-back after the Victoria game.
“It was still a good character win,” he said. “And it was good to get (goalie Adam) Clark in there too; he was unreal for us. Some of the saves, I don’t know how he made them.”
On to Alberni Valley to conclude the road trip, a different type of game unfolded. Again, Salmon Arm was badly outshot, 38-16, but Kurt Williams stopped all but one puck to earn third star honours.
“That was actually a really good one for us, probably the most complete game we played,” said Reardon. “Even though they had more shots, (Bulldogs goalie Max) Fenkell made some unreal saves. He was real good for them and Williams too for us.”
Another positive development was the production of Myles McCauley. One of the players acquired in the Bryce Gervais trade, he’d been quiet offensively but wound up with a goal and two assists on the weekend.
“He’s got a really hard shot and he’s making plays and guys are feeding off that,” said Reardon.
As for Reardon, who has taken on added responsibility with Cioffi now gone, the road trip was a good crash course in coaching.
“The first couple of games were a little bit tough for me but the more you go along the better it gets,” said the 21-year-old.
Salmon Arm hosts Chilliwack Saturday at 7 p.m. and Prince George on Sunday at 3 p.m.