The beginning of an extended pre-season ahead of a radically different 2020/21 campaign did not go the Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ way.
With the BCHL regular season not set to start until Dec. 1, the league’s Okanagan and Shuswap teams are getting a chance to size up the competition with an exhibition tournament called the Okanagan Cup.
Along with the Silverbacks, the Penticton Vees, West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers will be competing for the cup.
The Silverbacks played their first games of the Okanagan Cup against the Vees in Penticton on Sept. 25 and 26. Although they were energized by an early near-miss on the Penticton goal, the ‘Backs would go on to be pummelled by the home team. The Vees’ first goal of the game came shorthanded off the stick of the Tristan Amonte. Amonte scored again on a rush to the net later in the period. The home team’s offence kept rolling, putting two goals on the board in the second frame and then three more in the third for a 7-0 final score.
“Obviously, it’s a tough way to start the exhibition season here. Definitely not what we were looking to do coming in, but at the end of the day, we’re blessed with a lot of time right now to fine tune some things and be able to get our game to where we want it to be when the games start for real,” assistant coach Carter Cochrane said about the results of the opening game.
“We’re using a lot of these games as measuring sticks to just see where our guys are at and then be able to kind of tweak and implement our systems as we go here.”
The following night, the teams took the ice again at the South Okanagan Event Centre. The tone of surging offence set by the Vees in the previous game continued as they scored three unanswered goals in the opening 14 minutes of play. Daniel Panetta tallied up the first goal of the game for the Silverbacks just before the 15-minute mark after pressure on a Vees skater behind the home team’s net led to a loose puck in the crease.
The Vees Devlin O’Brien made the score 4-1 but a one-timer from Simon Tassy set up by Noah Serdachny ended the period 4-2 with Penticton still ahead.
Salmon Arm had three power-play opportunities in the opening half of the second period but was unable to score. After killing off the third penalty the Vees added another goal courtesy of Jackson Niedermayer. Their fifth goal, from Luc Wilson came before the end of the period.
Two more goals in the third wrapped up an 8-2 defeat for the ‘Backs.
The Silverbacks have the first weekend of October off and will be returning to the ice for a home-and-home series against the West Kelowna Warriors on Oct. 9 and 10.