By taking care of business last week against the Trail Smoke Eaters, the Salmon Arm SilverBacks earned themselves a few days off and hope to be refreshed for a tough schedule ahead this coming weekend.
The ’Backs downed the Smokies 7-2 at home on Thursday and followed up with a 5-1 road win in Trail the following night.
The four points earned are huge in a tight Interior Division where the SilverBacks currently hold third place.
Trail is at the bottom of the division at the moment, but Salmon Arm associate head coach Brandon West said the team did a good job of not looking past their opponent.
“We knew that they’re a hardworking hockey club and we remember last year when they came back to win a number of games and pushed teams late in the game,” said West. “I felt we put a clamp down on their systems and it gave us a chance to succeed.
“We set a goal of winning both this weekend and we accomplished that. We were successful in a lot of areas this weekend.”
Salmon Arm went 2-for-8 on the man advantage and held Trail to one goal on the power play in 12 chances. The SilverBacks’ penalty killing is currently a BCHL-best 89 per cent.
Add in another stellar weekend by the top line of Evan Anderson, Landon Smith and Alex Gillies and it results in a dominant pair of wins.
Anderson, with three goals including the game-winner on Thursday at Shaw Centre, was particularly prominent.
“He’s been tremendous for us all year but he hadn’t been rewarded so much on the points side of things,” said West. “He had a great summer and came into camp ready to go and he’s been rewarded with ice time. He’s a hardworking guy and that’s what we expect from our top-line centre.”
In goal, Angus Redmond played at home and Adam Clark got the start in Trail. Both were sound and benefitted from a better-organized team in front of them, especially in the defensive zone.
West and head coach Troy Mick have spent extra time covering each player’s responsibility in their own end and it seemed to pay off against Trail.
“We challenge guys to play within our systems and I felt we did that for 120 minutes,” said West. “We stuck to the game plan and guys were excited to play after the (Oct. 5) loss to Vernon, to work hard and reward our fans and we did that on Friday.”
It was also a nice pair of games for Riley Hunt and Brendan Kennedy. Both players missed the start of the season with injuries. Hunt got his first point of the season Thursday with an assist on a Cole McCaskill tally, while Kennedy had a helper in each game, including one on a Thomas Plese power-play goal Friday.
The weekend ahead will be tough with a game in Merritt Friday at 7:30 p.m., a home date versus Coquitlam Saturday at 7 p.m. and a road game in West Kelowna Sunday at 2:30 p.m.