During the regular season, it was Penticton Vees defenceman Troy Stecher doing a number on the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
After a November shutout win, SilverBacks coach Scott Robinson said his team had to be aware of what Stecher was doing.
Perhaps he’s now saying the same about Vees forward Sam Mellor. After three games in the Interior Conference semifinal, the Cranbrook minor hockey product has bulged the twine twice and set up three goals. His play helped the Vees take a 3-0 series lead.
When asked to talk about his play, Mellor said, “Just playing like every game is my last.”
With that mindset, Mellor is just striving for a win every game.
“I feel like I have been playing well,” he said. “Me and my line mates are doing good. We’re just trying to get pucks in deep, cycle and score.”
Thus far, Mellor has set up Louie Nanne and John Siemer, while Mike Rebry and Wade Murphy have helped him score, with Rebry collecting the primary assists.
Mellor said competing in the playoffs is a different than the regular season as play is more intense. Bound for Western Michigan next season, Mellor didn’t have an answer for what’s helping him be successful.
“Just have to want to win I guess,” said the 20-year-old. “I know what kind of team we have here. We have the ability to win. I don’t want to let that chance go.”
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson has no complaints about Mellor’s play.
“It doesn’t surprise me how he’s playing,” said Harbinson. “He plays hard in all three zones. He’s a big leader for us.”
At press time, the Vees were travelling to Salmon Arm with the motivation to sweep the SilverBacks out of the BCHL playoffs. Mellor described Game 3 as a tighter match from the first two. Heading into Tuesday night’s action, he knew to expect the SilverBacks to come out hard with desperation.
“I know they are a good team but I think we can do it,” he said.
Harbinson said that closing a team out is also hard and expected a battle. Cam Amantea returned to the lineup after battling the flu, while Murphy played battling the same illness. He said he was feeling much better Tuesday morning.
“I think I’m doing all right,” said Murphy of his play in the series. “Doing the simple things.”
In the other series, heading into Tuesday night action, the West Kelowna Warriors held a 2-1 advantage over the Merritt Centennials in their series. After winning 6-1 and 3-2 in overtime, the Centennials won 4-3. In the Coastal Conference, with the opening series being a best-of-five, the Powell River Kings held a 2-1 advantage on the Victoria Grizzlies, while the Nanaimo Clippers, who will host the first Western Canada Cup, held a 2-1 edge on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Surrey Eagles led the Langley Rivermen 2-1 after winning the last game 6-2. The Prince George Spruce Kings, who took Game 1 3-1, found themselves fighting for their playoff lives against the Chilliwack Chiefs.