Even with a talented top line, an experienced goalie tandem and some blue-chip recruits this year, Salmon Arm SilverBacks head coach Troy Mick says it doesn’t amount to much without a little sweat equity.
Riding high after a two-game sweep of Vernon, the Gorillas were humbled last weekend with after a 5-3 loss in West Kelowna Friday and a 4-2 loss to the Warriors at home on Saturday.
“They came in and they wanted it a bit more than us,” Mick summarized of the home-and-home set. “You’re only as good as your last game and the last two games, we weren’t very good.”
At Shaw Centre Saturday, Salmon Arm got the start they wanted with an opening goal from Colton Thibault, but couldn’t build on the momentum as they ran into penalty trouble. West Kelowna’s Jordan Masters tied it on the power play late in the first and two second-period goals for the Warriors proved to be all the visitors would need.
“Our discipline was a factor in that,” said Mick. “Our effort was better on Saturday but if you take undisciplined penalties, as much as we were better, it’s going to cost you.”
Friday at Royal Lepage Place in West Kelowna, the Warriors were without Detroit Red Wings draft pick David Pope but got a boost from new recruit Jason Cotton who had two goals including the game-winner in the last second of the second period.
Salmon Arm’s top line of Landon Smith, Evan Anderson and Alex Gillies had the ’Backs goals with Gillies’ BCHL-leading eighth tally of the season tying the game briefly before Cotton’s marker.
The weekend served as a sharp lesson for the SilverBacks and Mick said the forward lines will be mixed up a bit this week.
“The league is too good to take nights off,” said Mick. “(Our players) thought West Kelowna was going to give us two points. We’ve got to get consistency from more of our players; our first-year players have got to step up and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here one year or four years, when you’re on the ice, you’ve got to play the way we expect.”
Salmon Arm’s penalty killing, which was flawless against Vernon the weekend prior, allowed three goals against the Warriors. The pair of losses should sharpen the team’s collective focus as they prepare this week at practice for a three-game road trip to Vancouver Island and Chilliwack.
“This gives us a great week of practice to get ready for our Island road swing,” said Mick, adding team togetherness should be enhanced by getting out of town for a bit. “(Road trips), you get to ride the bus together, get in the hotel rooms. This will be a real good evaluation component for the coaches. Nanaimo, Victoria, Chilliwack – those are all tough games so we shouldn’t have to say much.”
Salmon Arm visits the Nanaimo Clippers Friday in a 7 p.m. faceoff, the Victoria Grizzlies at 7:15 p.m. Saturday and the Chilliwack Chiefs Sunday for a 5 p.m. start time.