Timing is everything in sports, and life for that matter, and the timing of the five-game losing streak the Salmon Arm SilverBacks are currently in the throes of is hardly optimal.
The skid has put the SilverBacks five points behind the Merritt Centennials for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division.
The most recent setbacks came on the road in a 5-1 defeat to the Surrey Eagles and a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Coquitlam Express.
Salmon Arm never led in either of the two losses. The only time they were on level ground was the opening face-off and one other time, when Landon Smith evened things up briefly in the first period against Coquitlam. The Eagles led 5-0 before Alex Gillies got the ’Backs on the board.
“The tomorrows are running out real quick for us,” said SilverBacks head coach Troy Mick. “Obviously, we’re a very streaky team… and obviously we need to get on a (winning) streak here.”
Designated number-one goalie Adam Clark has not been available, nor has veteran blueliner Mitch Ferguson. Angus Redmond has taken over crease duties and while Mick noted Redmond would probably like a do-over on a few of the goals last weekend, there is no looking back or assigning blame.
“We can talk about injuries or whatever but at the end of the day, we can’t have excuses,” said Mick. “To a man, we haven’t played to our abilities. I’m not just going to pick our goaltender; we need everyone to play our best.”
That starts Friday night in Vernon. The Vipers have won three in a row but the SilveBacks lead the season series against them 4-2.
Mick’s crew has shown the ability to right the ship in tough times already this season. They were winless in four games from Jan. 10 to 17 but then won five in a row from Jan. 18 to Feb. 1. That body of work means hope exists among the players.
“We’ve done it before so of course we can,” said Mick. “You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to realize this is the biggest weekend of the year for our hockey club. We need to play for each other and not try to do too much.”
Clark and Ferguson will still not be available for the weekend ahead but the return of Alex Gillies and the goal he scored against Surrey are encouraging signs for the top line he occupies along with Evan Anderson and Landon Smith.
“He (Gillies) is not in game shape per se, and we need those guys to click but we can’t just rely on them,” said Mick. “Whether we’re hurt or not, we’ve got to suck it up a bit. We can’t worry about the past; we can only about the future and that’s Friday night in Vernon.”
Salmon Arm also has a huge home date against Merritt on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Shaw Centre.
Mick is counting on some positive vibes in the team’s home rink.
“We’ve had some nice crowds our last few games and we’re going to need them for support here.”