A 2-6 start to the season is not what the Silverbacks had ordered, but general manager Troy Mick is adamant the club is not in panic mode.
“Obviously I have got some grave concerns to the way we have started this season, and we are working really hard as an organization to address those problems,” said Mick.
One of the standout concerns this season has been the goaltending. Mick addressed the club’s goaltending concerns last week as he traded 18-year-old Michael Botiz to Surrey for future considerations and signed Brandon Kegler, who makes his return to the Silverbacks.
Kegler signed with the club last year and played in 22 games for the gorillas and won eight of his starts with a .910 save percentage.
“We had the chance to bring Kegler back after the Lethbridge Hurricanes released him. We acted quickly because of the familiarity and they way he proved himself last season.”
The ’Backs newest signing got the start on Friday night as they hosted their Interior rivals from Merritt. The Silverbacks started to unravel in the first period after a weak shot from the top of the circle by the Cents’ Mark O’Shaughnessy that slipped under Kegler’s glove, giving the visitors the lead midway through the period.
A goal by Michael Regush and a pair by Tyler Ward capped off the four goal first frame for Merritt propelling them to a 5-2 win. The speedy West Covina, Calif. native Elijiah Barriga got a pair for the ‘Backs in the second but they would get no closer.
Zach Risteau iced it with an empty-net goal in the third.
“We showed up at eight O’clock to play a hockey game and that’s unacceptable– we’re all taking responsibility for that,” said Silverbacks head coach Brandon West.
The Silverbacks headed south of the boarder to face Wenatchee on Saturday evening, and for the first time this season started the same goalie in back-to-back games. A flurry of goals in the first five minutes by the Wild’s Dakota Raabe, AJ Vanderbeck and Jasper Weatherby chased Kegler from the crease.
“In Brandon’s defence he hadn’t played in about seven to 10 days, but he wanted the start because that’s the type of competitor he is,” said Mick.
Backup Trevin Kozlowski was greeted by goals from Colin Burston and Charlie Combs putting the home side in control after 20 minutes on their way to the easy 9-0 victory.
After another difficult weekend the ‘Backs will look to regroup for the weekend, and Mick stressed the importance of his individual meetings with the coaching staff and players this week.
“We are constantly evaluating the roster and right now I’m not happy. This weekend will be very important for the guys to prove themselves as we look to make changes moving forward,” Mick said.
The ‘Backs will face the Warriors in West Kelowna on Friday before hosting Surrey at home on Saturday at 7 p.m.