With the Vernon Vipers on deck Friday and the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday, the Penticton Vees intend to forget about Wednesdays loss.
The Salmon Arm SilverBacks have defeated the defending RBC Cup champs two games in a row now after leaving the South Okanagan Events Centre with a 2-1 win.
The SilverBacks received all the offence they needed in a one-minute span in the opening period. Former Vee Evan Anderson broke the scoreless tie with less than five minutes remaining as he broke in on goalie Chad Katunar and chipped the puck upstairs. Then another former Vee, this time defenceman Shane Hanna, shot from inside the point and had it redirected past Katunar, who motioned a high stick to the official hoping it would be called back.
“I thought that puck was tipped in with a high stick,” said Katunar, adding that referee Matt Thurston disagreed with him. “I saw it go way up and then it was in the net. I completely lost sight of it. I’m not sure how it went in still.”
While the Vees outshot the SilverBacks 15-9 in that period, the Vees didn’t have many great scoring chances. The first one came from affiliate player Josh Blanchard, who broke in on SilverBacks goalie Adam Clark, but after getting off his backhand, he was knocked down. The Vees failed on the power play despite having some chances.
The second period was much the same for the Vees. Their best chance came when forward Cam Amantea fired a shot off the post as he blazed down the left wing.
The Vees came out stronger in the third period firing 17 shots on Clark, who was named the game’s first star. Given three power play opportunities, Sam Mellor scored with Ryan Schwalbe in the box. Mellor’s ninth goal of the season came as Clark was dealing with traffic in front of his crease. That energized the Vees. They had chances, including Louie Nanne hitting the crossbar, but couldn’t solve Clark, who finished with 39 saves.
“I can’t say I like the way the third period went,” said SilverBacks coach Scott Robinson. “We just gave up too much. Clark was great in there and made the win stand up.”
“I thought we had to have a better start obviously. In any game you want to play a complete 60 minutes,” said Vees captain Troy Stecher. “With our first period there we piss them away basically. When you look at a couple of our plays in the first period, bounces didn’t go our way. It was because we weren’t competing hard enough.”
Stecher said their performance wasn’t from a lack of trying. He credited Salmon Arm for playing well and added their ability to clog the entry into their zone made it difficult for the Vees to create chances. Stecher also took blame on Anderson’s goal stating the puck bounced over his arm.
Katunar, who finished with 18 saves, wasn’t any easier on the assessment of their play.
“I think it all just comes down to hard work and compete level,” he said. “Our third period was excellent. Our second period was better. Our first was very sloppy. They were beating us to pucks in the corner. They were first to pucks all over the ice. You could make the argument that I was outplayed by their guy. In all areas of the ice, in all areas of our game, we were outplayed tonight.”
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said he was happy with his players in the third. He just felt that his player were uninspired most of the game.
“There was absolutely no emotion in the building,” said Harbinson, in regard to the crowd of 1,149.
He credited the SilverBacks for skating well and pressuring them as they found ways to outnumber the Vees. One thing Harbinson noted was that his team didn’t play a lot in their defensive zone.
As for the SilverBacks and their play, Robinson said they talked about making an impression off the start.
“I think we obviously did that,” he said. “We have a tendency to feel teams out and not really assert ourselves. We did a much better job of that tonight.”
After playing what Harbinson thought were their best two games of the season prior to Wednesday, the Vees coach wants to see his team be harder on pucks when they go to Vernon to take on the Vipers (10-13-0-7). On Saturday they host the Clippers (15-11-0-2) at 5 p.m. Jedd Soleway will be back in the Vees lineup after visiting the University of Wisconsin and Harbinson will make the necessary changes to his roster.
“This is a big weekend for us,” said Katunar. “We can’t get too negative after this one. We’re definitely going to be hungry against both those teams. Nanaimo took two points from us last time. We will definitely be hungry for them. They are hosting the Western Canada Cup. They are one of those teams that if we want to go real far, they are one of those teams we have to go through. We want to make a statement now.”