By now, Salmon Arm SilverBacks fans know the ‘future considerations’ swapped to the Penticton Vees in exchange for Myles McCauley, Garrett Hendrickson and Shane Hanna meant Bryce Gervais.
And with seven players injured on top of that, it left the cupboard rather bare last week as the ’Backs dropped a home game to Penticton Friday (6-2) and a pair to Prince George (3-2 Saturday and 2-0 Sunday on the road).
Still, the Gervais trade was one the club felt it had to make.
“The biggest thing for us when we started looking at making a deal is our group isn’t deep enough,” said head coach and general manager Colin O’Hara. “Beyond our top four guys, it’s been tough to put the puck in the net.”
The club’s position is McCauley is a talented player who, while pointless in five games so far, managed almost a point-per-game last season in Penticton; Hendrickson brings another year of eligibility and Salmon Arm native Shane Hanna is back where he belongs.
“When you’re able to address three areas for one player in today’s BCHL, that’s pretty rare,” said O’Hara, adding Hanna likely shouldn’t have ever been lost to Penticton last summer but was missed in recruiting as the team went through its coaching transition from Tim Kehler.
“We had to give up something of value and Bryce Gervais was that player.”
Gervais, a Battlefords, Sask. product who was leading the team in scoring and was Interior Conference rookie of the year last season, was stunned and upset when he got the news he’d been dealt.
“He was devastated,” said O’Hara. “He couldn’t see himself in any other jersey but ours (but) we think we’ve done right by that young man; he couldn’t go to a more talented group (in Penticton).”
Moving ahead without Gervais is tougher right now because Matt Brown, Bennett Hambrook, James Friedel, Stefan Nicholishen, Alex Gillies and Graham McBain are all sidelined with various knee, shoulder, wrist, collarbone and foot injuries. O’Hara did not wish to specify who had what.
Joel Kipp remains on the shelf after having his spleen removed resulting from a questionable hit sustained in the first game of the season in Vernon.
“We played for the most part with nine forward and five defenceman (last week),” said O’Hara. “After three games in three days, our group was gassed but we felt we out-chanced Prince George. We hit five posts or crossbars and missed empty nets. It’s a lack of determination; we couldn’t put the puck in the ocean.
“Against Penticton, they scored on the first two shots of the game. I don’t think our goaltending was good that night – we had chances but were almost lackadaisical.”
Focus on finishing becomes the prime goal this week in practice, though doing drills has been tough with so many players missing. O’Hara thinks McCauley is close to finding his touch as he has been getting a ton of scoring chances. Morgan Zulinick was the team’s top offensive contributor in the recent trio of games with a goal and two assists. He, Devin Muller and Brett Knowles are all tied with 27 points on the season.
The team will need those three to continue their production and hope that McCauley joins the act moving forward.