The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are heading into the final stretch of the regular season this month with a playoff position secured and two seasoned skaters newly added to their team.
January was a big month for the Silverbacks, with a slog through a trio of three-game weekends testing their endurance and composure on the ice.
Silverbacks’ captain Sol Seibel says this marathon run of games was a great test of the team’s mettle ahead of the playoffs, especially against teams within their own division.
“This last little stretch, we needed to get some of these points. Throughout the whole season points are huge, but right now trying to get a good spot in the playoffs is really important and some of these in division games is what it is going to come down to,” Seibel says. “I have lots of confidence in our team, we are looking good in practice and working on everything we need to work on.”
Coach Tanner Cochrane adds that games were deliberately piled up in January to prep the team for a hard-fought run at the playoffs.
“We set our schedule up to have a tougher January to try and get the guys ready for a playoff-type atmosphere. We had those three three-game weekends in a row, I think that was a great challenge for our group,” Cochrane says. “Heading into the playoffs we want to put our best foot forward, get the best possible match-up and kind of get the ball rolling here. So this last segment is going to be huge for us.”
Coming into February, the final month of regular season play in the BCHL, the Silverbacks have some double-headers with other teams in their division along with a five-game spree against two of the top teams in the league: the Penticton Vees and the Wenatchee Wild.
In this last run of games before the playoffs start with a vengeance, Cochrane says discipline and focus will be two key pillars to their hopes of success.
“I think coming into February, discipline will be key for our group. We have a couple guys injured and we need to make sure we have all our bodies on the lineup every night.,” Cochrane says. “Discipline will be key in our games, and not just penalty wise. We are going to have to be diligent within our structure and find that professional approach that can make us successful in playoffs.”
On this point of discipline, both Seibel and Cochrane stress the team has no intentions on relaxing their practice schedules or intensity on the ice, even with a playoff spot secured.
“Every point matters because you are trying to get a good matchup, maybe get home ice for more of your games. If you are up higher in the standings you play someone lower in the standings so that could benefit you in some ways,” Seibel says. “You just want to be in stride when you get into playoffs, not laying down.”
“I think the playoff clinch doesn’t matter at this point, we are trying to put ourselves in the best position to succeed in playoffs,” Cochrane adds. “If anything, we have to put our foot on the gas even more. With 16 teams making the playoffs there is no benefit of qualifying as early as we did and then just packing it in, we want to be in the best spot possible moving forward.”
This year will be the first time Seibel has skated with the Silverbacks in the playoffs – though he did spend some time with the team in the regular season last year. In his first year as team captain in the BCHL, he says he has learned a lot enjoyed the experience gained acting as a leader for the team.
“It’s been awesome, I take everything I learned from watching all the captains before me on previous teams, I have tried to implement everything they did and learn from them. You get some different outlooks on the game, and you see a bit of a different perspective,” he says. “I try and be there for the players as well as the coaches, kind of becoming a pipeline between them. I’m also here to be looking out for the younger guys and making sure that it’s a great experience for them, but also holding them accountable and making the team click best that I can.”
In the weeks coming up, the Silverbacks have a double-header against the West Kelowna Warriors this weekend (Feb. 1-2), a mid-week matchup against the Coquitlam Express Feb. 5, followed by another double-header against the Trail Smoke Eaters Feb. 8-9. After their Feb. 13 game against the Chilliwack Chiefs, the Silverbacks enter the five-game stretch against Wenatchee and Penticton to close off the season with some tough matchups.