Winning four straight games and moving into the final playoff spot in the Interior Division, you’d think things couldn’t be better for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
But as pleased as head coach Scott Robinson is, the rapid change of fortune after some recent player transactions also has him on guard about his team forgetting the details for success. It wasn’t a concern for him even three weeks ago, but the ’Backs are on a BCHL-best four-game win streak after wins of 4-0 and 5-2 over the Trail Smoke Eaters.
“We’re trying to get the new guys on the same page,” said Robinson. “Our commitment to defence early on when we weren’t scoring was good; now because we’re scoring a bit more, we certainly don’t want to lose that strength.”
Robinson saw the SilverBacks’ defensive prowess in top form Friday in Trail as Adam Clark earned his first BCHL shutout while Jeff Kennedy, Anthony Croston, Alex Gillies and Steven Iacobellis provided the scoring.
“We probably played our best defensive game of the year,” said Robinson. “We limited them to one out-numbered rush; we put together a real good road effort.”
At home the next night, Salmon Arm allowed more shots against, but Clark was there to make 41 saves for his seventh win of the season.
Iacobellis scored twice to take first star while Evan Anderson’s fourth since joining the team stood up as the winner.
The SilverBacks’ special teams were a major asset on the weekend as the power play went 4-for-10 while the penalty killing was a perfect 13-for-13.
“We gave up a few too many power-play situations,” noted Robinson. “But our guys used what we’re trying to get them to do and Adam Clark made some saves.
“Our power play is good; we have two units now and the guys are throwing the puck around so we’re pretty happy with how that’s gone.”
The instant chemistry Iacobellis has found playing on the top line with Alex Gillies and Brandon Mistal as well as the production of Anderson, who has eight points in seven games with the ’Backs, is a luxury the team didn’t have in the first two months of the season. On the blueline, Robinson concedes the skill of Sean Flanagan and the leadership of Bennett Hambrook are tough to do without but Mitchell Ferguson and Dylan Bowen have stepped up to replace those losses.
Robinson also likes what he sees from Brandon Mistal in the days since he took over the team’s captaincy.
“He’s not an overly loud guy and now we’ve put a little more on him,” said Robinson.
“He’s an obvious choice to succeed Bennett; a day-in-day-out worker kind of guy.”
Looking at a tough schedule through to Christmas that includes West Kelowna, Merritt and Penticton a combined seven times, Robinson says that will be a true indicator of the team’s improvement.
“If our game’s not in order we’ll be exposed… We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Salmon Arm visits Penticton tonight, hosts Merritt Friday and hosts Penticton Saturday. All games are 7 p.m. starts.