The week that was finished better than it started for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, but the club took just two of a possible six points and is currently in seventh place in the Interior Conference.
Salmon Arm had a dud in their home game Oct. 12 with the vastly improved Prince George Spruce Kings in town, dropping a 6-3 decision. The visitors led 5-0 at one point before Kyle Oleniuk and Brett Knowles got the ’Backs on the board. Morgan Zulinick tallied in the third but it was too little, too late.
“For ourselves, that was our worst game so far that we’ve played,” said Knowles. “P.G. is a different team this year.”
Former SilverBack Paul De Jersey had two goals and an assist on the night in what is looking like a massive breakout year. He leads the BCHL in scoring with 14 goals and eight assists in nine games.
On the Salmon Arm side, head coach Colin O’Hara has been trying to get his group to trust the game plan and not have individuals take over the approach on their own. Team captain Knowles says simple hard work is something that hasn’t appeared consistently enough either.
“It’s a bit of everything; guys are straying from the system and the effort is lacking. To a man, we’ve got to be better.”
Going to Merritt Friday, the team produced a better effort but still didn’t get the results with a 4-2 loss to the Centennials. The Cents were firing pucks early and often and got the first goal off the stick of Richard Sabourin. Salmon Arm tied it on a Bryce Gervais goal but Billy Marshall and Brent Fletcher responded for the Cents. A goal from newcomer Braden Pears got the SilverBacks within one going into the third but Evan Stack, after being pulled down on a breakaway, scored on a penalty shot to seal it.
“It was better,” said Knowles of the team’s effort in Merritt. “Again, we seem to struggle to bring 60 minutes of good hockey. Once we figure out the full 60, we’ll be better.”
Saturday saw the ’Backs visit the Westside Warriors and show some good resolve by overcoming a two-goal, third-period deficit to force overtime where a Brock Balson tally won it.The rally began when Morgan Zulinick, on the penalty kill, picked the pocket of a Warriors defenceman at the Westside blueline and walked in to beat affiliate goalie Conor Wilkinson. Mak Barden tied it with a snap shot from the slot shortly after. Knowles said the team will really try to build on the come-from-behind effort now.
“We’ve got a lot of character in our room and it shows. We’ve shown we can come back from behind and it’s good for us to do it against a good team like Westside.”
Knowles and his teammates are looking forward to this weekend when they host Cowichan Valley Friday and Surrey Saturday.
“It’s exciting; I like playing teams we haven’t played before,” said Knowles. “And my old roommate and linemate Devin Gannon is coming back to town (with Cowichan). It should be fun.”
Both games start at 7 p.m. at Sunwave Centre.