Back-to-back loses to the Vernon Vipers was not the start to the season the Silverbacks had envisioned.
“We are still learning, we’re a young and inexperienced group,” said Silverbacks head coach Brandon West, after the club’s 6-3 season opening loss Friday evening.
In the ’Backs home opener, 12 players participated in their first BCHL regular season game.
Vernon’s Hunter Zandee took advantage of a sluggish start by the Silverbacks, scoring just two and a half minutes into the game.
Just before the end of the opening frame, tempers flared between both sides as a scrum broke out in front of the Vipers goal, resulting from a previous skirmish between Silverback Marcus Mitchell and Viper Sol Seibel.
The Vipers held onto their lead until Connor Sundquist scored the first Silverbacks goal of the season, his first in the BCHL, and tied the game 1:27 into the second period, a short-handed marker with Carter Cochrane penalized for cross-checking at the end of the first period.
Glastonbury, Conn. native Sundquist showed tremendous speed as he chased down a loose puck, beating a Vernon defender before deking the Vipers goaltender Ty Taylor and scoring five-hole.
Three minutes later the Vipers regained their lead thanks to veteran Jimmy Lambert.
Tempers continued to boil over between whistles as both sides lacked composure and played at a frantic pace.
“Tonight (Friday) was a typical Interior Division battle between two rivals. That being said we did take unnecessary penalties,” said West.
Halfway through the period, Josh Latta scored his first goal as a Silverback, on a tight angle set up by Josh Blanchard and Jared Turcotte. The visitors responded less than a minute later after the ’Backs starter Trevin Kozlowski bobbled an easy shot, creating a rebound for Steven Jandric to deposit into the empty net.
West decided to end Kozlowski’s first start in the BCHL after the 19-year-old allowed three goals on 18 shots, giving Michael Botiz a chance to prove himself.
The goalie change seemed to calm the Silverbacks and provided a confidence boost as they turned the tide in their favour.
Sundquist scored again off a power play marker assisted by Mitchell.
The intensity and frantic pace of play continued until the end of period. The game remained tight-checking until Vernon scored a pair of goals midway though the third, before icing the game with an empty netter.
The following night the ’Backs held a 3-1 lead heading into the third, but gave up four unanswered goals, resulting in their second loss.
Cochrane and Grayson Constable both scored their first goals as Silverbacks and Carson Bolduc got his first of the season.
The ’Backs will look to get in the win column this weekend as they play host to Chilliwack on Friday and Coquitlam on Saturday at the Shaw Centre. Puck drop is 7 p.m. for both games.