For the most part, the effort was there but the results definitely were not for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in a three-game weekend as they dropped home games to the Penticton Vees (3-2) and the West Kelowna Warriors (5-2) and a road game to the Merritt Centennials (4-2).
“I think in the third game, we had pretty good energy in Merritt,” said ’Backs head coach Scott Robinson. “We probably deserved a better fate than what we got; it was a slow start and we couldn’t make up ground.”
The Cents jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period which prompted Robinson to make a goalie change, putting Adam Clark in for starter Colin Dzijacky. The first goal, with Brendan Kennedy in the box for interference, was a bit of bad luck as a Merritt shot deflected in off a Salmon Arm defenceman. The second was off a neutral-zone turnover and the third was shorthanded.
“(The goalie change) was more of a pull for reasons of, ‘Let’s wake up a bit here,’” said Robinson. “The first two were no fault of (Dzijacky but) it’s important to bounce back right away rather than giving them the next opportunity.”
Salmon Arm never led during the three-game stretch but put a bit of a scare into Penticton Friday at Shaw Centre as they got late goals from Jeff Kennedy and Harlan Orr to get within one. All three Vees goals came on the man advantage and that proved to be the difference.
“What cost us was our discipline,” said Robinson. “There were a couple of untimely penalties and you can’t give (Penticton) too many opportunities on the power play. We scored a couple and came back but it’s just not a recipe for success.”
Another hindrance was the number of shots surrendered to Penticton and West Kelowna – 45 and 42 respectively.
“You never want to be over 40,” noted Robinson, adding a better grasp by all players of the team’s defensive systems should improve that. “Our attention to the small details has got to be better. Taking care of the puck is important against (Penticton and West Kelowna) because they look to create scoring chances off turnovers.”
The goaltending tandem of Clark and Dzijacky continues to keep the ’Backs in the game most nights, and another bright spot on the weekend was the play of Carter Lukenda who had a point in each game. The rookie has been strong in the face-off circle as well.
“He’s benefitted from being on our power play and certainly he’s done the job well down in front of the net,” said Robinson. “Our power play has been good; we just need to shore up our defensive play.”
That begins with improving the penalty killing which allowed six goals in 14 chances on the weekend and is currently 14th in the BCHL at 76.2 per cent.
“We’ve got to redefine our roles and understand it better,” said Robinson. “We’re (coaches) not getting what we’re asking for right now.”
Salmon Arm visits Vernon on Friday and hosts Trail on Saturday. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.