This time last year the Silverbacks were struggling to remain above .500 and were battling with West Kelowna for the fourth place spot in the Interior Division.
This year, the ’Backs have been among one of the top teams in the BCHL and sit in second place in the division.
The Silverbacks took a break after a rigorous and exhausting practice to have some fun with the Observer and answer a few oddball questions before taking time off for the Christmas break.
We found out that Ross Heidt can dance, Josh Laframboise always chews bubble gum before a game, Elijiah Barriga can’t put down his phone, and Brandon Kegler has a large appetite.
Several of the questions had unanimous answers, one of them being, “Who is the best-dressed Silverback?”
“Definitely Damian Chrcek,” says Carson Bolduc, one of many to agree on Chrcek’s sharp sense of style. “He’s got a great sense of style and he has nice hair too.”
“Damian’s got style, he likes to spend money so he always looks good,” added Heidt.
Brandon Kegler and Ryley Booth shared the dubious distinction of being voted the worst-dressed Silverbacks, thanks in part to their affinity for sweatpants, hoodies and a certain ’70s-style jacket.
“Booth has got this ’70s jacket that he likes to wear and it’s just terrible,” laughs Colton Thibault.
“It’s a lifestyle choice, it’s all about being comfy,” says Booth, defending his attire. “I still get a lot of hand-me-downs.”
Most of those interviewed agreed Heidt is the funniest Silverback, with a special mention to Chase Zieky and Mitch Newsome.
“Heidter is a real character. He loves to be the centre of attention and he makes everything funny,” says Chrcek.
Heidt got the nod in another category, with teammates saying the Red Deer, Alta. native is the team’s best dancer.
“Ross goes all out when the music gets going, the guy can move,” says Booth.
“Heidter has great rhythm, he can really get the place going,” says Josh Laframboise.
The team’s resident comedian and dancer was not shy about his behind-closed-doors antics.
“When there’s a good song on I just can’t help it, it takes over control and I go for it, but Zieks can move too. I try to keep it light in the dressing room, I like to get the boys fired up,” says Heidt.
Laframboise is said to be the Silverback with the strangest pre-game ritual.
“He gets to the rink like four hours early, kisses his stick and chews about 100 pieces of bubble gum before every game,” says Barriga of the Regina, Sask. product.
In addition to his gum chewing, Laframboise also revealed that he gets dressed from left to right, a superstition that he says goes back many years.
When asked who their last pick would be in a shootout, the decision was split between a pair of defencemen, Phil Middleton and Michael Winnitoy.
“I wouldn’t be too worried about Winny scoring in a shootout. When he stick handles, it’s like watching someone chopping onions out there,” jokes goaltender Kegler.
“I’m not that bad of a stick handler,” chimed in Winnitoy.
“My stick handling is fine, I just don’t know what to do with the puck when I get close to the net.”
When it comes to who has the largest appetite, Chrcek admits he is a front runner in the category.
“Checker can really eat. He was pretty fat last year, but he’s slimmed down since then,” laughs Booth.
Also receiving nominations for the largest appetite were Kegler and Bolduc.
“He loves his food for sure, especially candy,” says Winnitoy of the SAS graduate.
Zieky was widely agreed upon as the most popular Silverback on social media, getting up to 400 likes on a picture, says Laframboise.
While Zieky is busy counting his likes and favourites online, Winnitoy figures Zieky’s success may be due to Barriga never putting his phone down.
“Barriga always has his nose buried in his phone, he’s either ‘liking’ everything Zieks posts or else he’s talking to all of his girlfriends,” jokes Winnitoy.
The team’s snazziest dresser, Chrcek said he would deem himself the most prominent ladies’ man, if he did not already have a girlfriend.
“I always see Taro and Ross with girls, I would say they are the best with the ladies,” says Booth.
The Silverbacks will look to continue their impressive run of form in the new year when they return to action on New Year’s Day against the Surrey Eagles at the Shaw Centre at 7 p.m.