Salmon Arm Minor Hockey teams are getting a new look thanks to a partnership with the Silverbacks hockey organization that will see all eight minor hockey teams wearing Silverbacks colours in the upcoming season.
The two hockey organizations have been in talks for several months setting up the changeover and it’s now official. All eight minor hockey teams in Salmon Arm will become Silverbacks, complete with new jerseys and a host of other opportunities.
“In my opinion it should have been done years ago,” begins Brooks Christensen, the Silverbacks’ newly appointed operations manager. “We have such a great opportunity to have a relationship between both organizations.”
“We all think it is a win-win for us and for the Silverbacks,” says Joel de Boer, president of Salmon Arm Minor Hockey. “With them being more involved in minor hockey it’s going to help the kids with their development.”
In addition to the new jerseys and a name change to become Silverbacks teams, local minor hockey players will gain stronger ties to the junior A Silverbacks players and their coaching staff.
“We have been working on building a development program so we can get involved with minor hockey during the actual season,” Christensen says. “It sounds like we have secured about 80 ice times to run skills development with them as well. Every kid on each team would get ice time to work on skills with our coaching staff and our players.”
Not only is this a benefit to minor hockey teams who will receive mentorship and coaching from high-level players, Christensen feels the experience of coaching younger players will be great for the junior A team.
“To me one of the biggest things is if they can get involved and help a kid, teach him about the sport, there is no better feeling than a kid being excited that the Silverbacks are on the ice for their practice or for their skills session,” he says. “If they see a guy who can do some kind of a dangle or a stick maneuver, kids love it and they want to learn it.”
A bonus on both sides of the ice is a deeper relationship between Salmon Arm Minor Hockey and the junior A Silverbacks streamlines the process of local players becoming involved with the hometown team and one day skating with the junior A squad themselves, like the Silverbacks newly-signed local skater Cole Nisse.
“Our goal down the line is to eventually have all local kids on the team, that would be the ideal kind of dream,” Christensen says.
This line of thinking is echoed by de Boer, who says “you are going to have these younger kids who don that Silverbacks jersey at a young age and they may want to strive a little more now to play in their hometown with the Silverbacks… as a minor hockey association you like to see your players move on and become successful, if they can do that in their hometown that is going to be pretty exciting.”
This partnership with Salmon Arm Minor Hockey isn’t the only news coming out of the Silverbacks organization this week.
Their home ice at the Shaw Centre is replacing the old projector screen with an upgraded LCD viewing screen, along with two top-quality video production cameras to record and air game highlights, player spotlights, interviews and videos starring Silverbacks players out on the town.
“We’re hoping to have a lot of fan interaction, a lot more stuff to show on game night, that’s a big thing for me is boosting our game night entertainment,” Christensen says.
In an interesting twist, Christensen hopes to use these new tools as yet another avenue to get young people in the community involved with the Silverbacks.
“I’m in the middle of talks with the schools, trying to get some kids some school credits to come help us run the programming,” he says. “If a kid has a passion for filming or for video production we can actually get some live experience for them through this and some credits towards their schooling as well.”
At the core of the team’s plans for the upcoming season is community interaction, something Christensen hopes will be accelerated through the partnership with Salmon Arm Minor Hockey.
“My motivation is to have our guys out in the community as much as possible this year,” he says.
In alumni news, a number of former Silverbacks players had the chance to attend NHL development camps during the last week of June, joining the roster of free agents invited out by NHL teams to train and be scouted by teams.
Defenceman Chase Priskie was selected for the Washington Capitals’ camp and forward Taro Hirose, brother of current Silverbacks defenceman Akito Hirose, was selected for the Detroit Red Wings’ camp, where they will be sharpening their on-ice skills and vying for a spot on the NHL draft. Former ‘Backs goaltender Angus Redmond, who signed an entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks in 2017, was also selected for the Ducks’ development camp.
In addition to these Silverbacks alumni players skating in development camps, two more alumni players, Ben Street (Anaheim Ducks) and Riley Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) signed with NHL teams.