There’s no need to panic yet but the players and coaches on the Salmon Arm SilverBacks are feeling urgency to get things right heading into this weekend’s home-and-home set with the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The ’Backs came up empty in two road games last weekend losing 6-2 to the Coquitlam Express Friday and 6-4 to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday to go to 0-4-0-1 to start the campaign. Both games saw Salmon Arm come back from deficits but lack the finish that could have put them over the top.
On Friday, Coquitlam went up 3-0 before Brock Balson and Morgan Zulinick got Salmon Arm within one. That was as close as it would get as the Express scored late in the second and added another pair in the third. The Gorillas had 37 shots on Khaleed Devji but had little success solving him.
“I think it’s just a case of, we don’t have a win, and our guys are squeezing the sticks real tight,” said SilverBacks head coach Colin O’Hara of the lack of finish. “We pushed again and made a game of it; we (counted) ourselves at 17 scoring chances but only scored on two. We had opportunities but made bad mistakes mentally that Coquitlam jumped on.”
In Chilliwack, the ’Backs scored early on a Bryce Gervais power-play tally but were down 2-1 after 20 minutes and 5-1 midway through the second before their response came. Three straight power play markers by Brett Knowles, Gervais and Zulinick got Salmon Arm within one at 5-4 but they couldn’t find the equalizer against Chiefs goalie Bryton Udy. Kit Sitterley iced it for Chilliwack with just more than five minutes to go.
“We really thought, take away the 10 minutes of the second where we didn’t compete, we really controlled that hockey game,” said O’Hara. “We were able to capitalize the back half of that period but they took advantage of two-on-ones and three-on-ones all night long. We got into some penalties that took the wind out of our sails.”
Right now, the lack of a win is weighing on the players. Anxious to make something positive happen, defencemen have been caught pinching and forwards have not executed the team’s defensive system which has led to odd-man rushes against.
“The (scoring) chances against, that’s a concern for me,” said O’Hara. “We’re giving up way too many and when we make them, we seem to do it for five- and 10-minute spans.”
Salmon Arm visits Trail Friday in a 7:30 p.m. start and hosts them Saturday at 7 p.m.