The Salmon Arm SilverBacks will accept the three points they earned on a tough three-game Lower Mainland road trip but they would have fared better if not for a stellar opposition goalie performance in the finale.
Surrey Eagles netminder Michael Santaguida basically stole the show for the home side on Sunday, making 37 saves to take first star in a 2-1 overtime win. That result came after the ’Backs had a 5-1 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday and 5-2 loss Friday to the Langley Rivermen.
Steven Iacobellis got the Gorillas out to a 1-0 lead with a goal late in the first but Santaguida was flawless after that. Devon Toews’ third-period tally tied it and Jordan Klimek won it in overtime.
“We had a number of quality chances with the right guys in the right spots but (Santaguida) came up big and made a number of huge saves,” said Salmon Arm bench boss Scott Robinson, adding the game felt very similar to the Nov. 9 overtime loss at home to the Eagles where Santaguida was also first star. “We feel like we deserved a little better.”
The point earned in Surrey made for a .500 road trip. The night before in Chilliwack, Salmon Arm held a 2-1 lead after one, on goals by Alex Gillies and Jordan Levesque. A defensively sound second period was scoreless and goals in the third by Ryan Schwalbe plus the second each for Levesque and Gillies sealed it for the visitors.
“All three games, we scored the first goal and that’s a great recipe on the road,” said Robinson. “In the Langley game… we took a couple of bad penalties and played what we call flip-a-coin hockey; we had 40 shots and gave up 41. We took that lesson to heart in Chilliwack.”
The win over the Chiefs was a good result given how successful they’ve been this season. Levesque’s contribution was key and after beginning this season with the Junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers, he’s become a fixture for Salmon Arm.
“Jordan is a pretty quiet player but in the games he’s played with us, he’s made only one or two poor decisions,” said Robinson. “He’s said maybe three words since he’s been here, but he sees the ice well and makes good decisions.”
To start off the road trip, Salmon Arm opened the scoring in Langley on Alex Jewell’s power-play marker but couldn’t add to it despite an extended five-on-three chance. The Rivermen tied it late in the first and added two more in the second to take control.
“The big (error) is the five-on-three and not capitalizing there,” said Robinson. “We just weren’t sharp and when the momentum turned on us, we didn’t handle it well.”
Salmon Arm hosts Chilliwack Friday at 7 p.m. at Shaw Centre and then visits Vernon Saturday, also at 7 p.m. Robinson anticipates the Chiefs will be looking for payback on Friday.
“We know we’re going to see a fired-up group on Friday; they’re going to want to make a change and we’ll go after them.”
Hanna to Huskies
The SilverBacks have announced that 18-year-old defenseman Shane Hanna has committed to the NCAA’s Michigan Tech Huskies.
The 5’11, 190-lb rearguard has developed into one of the premier offensive defenders in the BCHL over the past two seasons. Salmon Arm’s Hanna has a 3.5 GPA and his dedication as a student athlete is now being rewarded with the commitment to the Huskies program.
Hanna joined the ’Backs last season in a trade with the Penticton Vees, tallying 24 points over 53 games in his rookie season before racing into a break-out 12-13 season that has seen Hanna lead not only the ’Backs in scoring but the entire BCHL in defenceman scoring for extended stretches.