The Silverbacks kept up their winning ways against the BCHL’s top team over the weekend, locking down a 4-3 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs on their home turf at the Prospera Centre, for the first time in over five years.
Salmon Arm’s junior A squad entered the arena on a three-game win streak — as did their opponents — meaning someone was leaving the arena with an upset. For the Silverbacks it’s the longest win-streak of the season and comes after a pair of wins over their playoff rivals in Vernon.
The Chiefs got the scoring started in this matchup right off the whistle as Skyler Brind’Amour put one into the Silverbacks’ net just 49 seconds into the game, after an unfortunate slip of the puck behind the net. The Silverbacks came back to match the one point lead off a shot from Hudson Schandor, assisted by Matthew Verboon and Andy Stevens. Before the first period was over, Salmon Arm would inch out a lead off Yewta Plamondon’s second BCHL goal, assisted by Wyatt Marlow.
On their first power play of the game in the second period, things didn’t go quite as the Silverbacks might have hoped. A turnover in the Chiefs’ zone led to a breakaway for Kevin Wall. The rookie from Chilliwack leads the league in goals this season, and after making a nice move to his backhand he fired one into the top of the Silverbacks’ net to tie the game at two.
In the third, a few familiar faces would earn two more points for Salmon Arm to create a comfortable two-point lead. Matthew Verboon would find himself all alone out front of the Chilliwack net, taking a pass and making a clean goal off the assist from Schandor and Trevor Adams. Nick Unruh put up another point on his stats chart on the power-play just two minutes later, taking an assist from Akito Hirose and Noah Wakeford.
Looking back on the past month for the Silverbacks, it has been rife with injuries, an untimely suspension and big stretches of back-to-back games that tested their endurance. Despite this, they recorded eight wins — including two over division rivals Vernon Vipers — and just four losses. They clutched more than one game in the final minutes, including a frenetic three-goal spree in two minutes against Trail, two shootout wins and an overtime victory.
While these victories might be attributed to several things, Silverbacks’ head coach Scott Atkinson and captain Sol Seibel say it largely comes down to a mindset they have been working hard to instill in the entire team.
“It feels great, we picked up some momentum through this month I think, we battled through some injuries but I think the team was resilient enough to still move up the standings and keep this momentum,” says captain Sol Seibel.
“We are trying to get the idea that the most important game is the next game, because you can’t do much with whats already gone on,” Atkinson says. “You can only look forward to the immediate future and if you take care of that you continue to take care of the distant future, and that’s our mindset. I think if you take a look at the standings it’s a pretty good mindset to have.”
Looking ahead to November, the Silverbacks have a stretch of tough games against heavy-hitting teams, playing twice against division rivals Vernon Vipers and twice against last season’s playoff champions, the Wenahatchee Wild. The team is standing firm on not getting psyched out, however, focusing on their own game and not the stats of their opponents.
“I don’t think you should put more weight on any one game, you should look for the same outcome in every game: a win,” Seibel says. “ I think we are in a good spot, it feels great to start moving up the standings it gives us confidence throughout the year. We just want to be that team everyone looks at like ‘we gotta beat these guys.’”
Coming into November, the Silverbacks also announced some new additions to their coaching and support staff with the arrival of Tyler Shattock as a new coach and Mike Bois as athletic therapist, replacing Brett Knowles who is moving to Victoria to remain with his family.
“I think Tyler is a big addition, number one he is a local guy, born in Salmon Arm. I think he is a wealth of knowledge that we can utilize,” Atkinson says. “We are sad to see Brett go but fortunate to have a real good guy coming in with Mike, who has lots of experience. You have to get lucky sometimes, and I think we got lucky with Mike.”
The Silverbacks upcoming games are against the Penticton Vees Nov. 9, followed by a home game against the Vernon Vipers Nov. 10.