Taking the Salmon Arm SilverBacks lightly won’t be happening for the Penticton Vees.
Wade Murphy, the Vees assistant captain, said the SilverBacks, with four wins in 11 games, have improved under their new coach Scott Robinson.
“They will be better than the last game we played them,” said Murphy, referring to the Vees’ 5-0 victory on Sept. 21. “Use speed and we will be fine.”
Murphy, tied for the league lead with 20 points, knows the SilverBacks will be ready.
“They are hard to play against, a good defensive team, good goalie in (Adam) Clark, tough to score against them,” he said. “ They like to get under your skin.”
It doesn’t help that the Shaw Centre is no picnic to play in.
“They have pretty good fans,” said Murphy. “Quite rowdy in there actually. It’s pretty difficult there.”
Understanding the challenge of facing them falls in place with the importance Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is placing on it. He said it’s an important game because of their recent 4-2 loss to Nanaimo.
“We need to find a way to get back to feeling good about ourselves,” said Harbinson. “We had a good weekend last weekend as far as the way we played. Unfortunately, we got three of six points.”
Harbinson wants to see a similar performance in the Shaw Centre as last time. He knows the SilverBacks roster is improved with a veteran presence.
“Points in (same) divisions are always tough to come by,” he said.
Harbinson said the keys for his team will be managing the puck well and not having mental lapses. As Harbinson put it, any mistake made can be costly.
The Vees will play one more game on the road against the West Kelowna Warriors on Tuesday, at 11 a.m., before hosting the Warriors on Oct. 26 and Victoria on Oct. 27. The West Kelowna game has an earlier start since the team plans it for students to attend. It was a success last year against Vernon. Of course the early start, also changes the players routine. Murphy will have to wake up by either 6:30 or 7 a.m. with the bus leaving at 9 a.m. Playing in front of kids should make for a fun atmosphere, he said.
“They will be all against us but that will get us pumped up I think,” Murphy said with a smile.
As for the phantom hooking call against the Vees in Nanaimo, Harbinson heard back from Derek Adams, director of officiating for the BCHL.
“They have to be commended (because they) admitted it was a mistake,” said Harbinson, who credited the league and praised the improved communication between referees and coaches. “It’s very easy to criticize the officials nowadays, but I think our officiating is getting better and better all the time.”
Vees notes: Chad Katunar, Mike Rebry, Wade Murphy, Troy Stecher and Dexter Dancs have been invited to take part in the Team Canada West selection camp for the 2012 World Junior A Challenge. The camp will be held from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 at Hockey Canada headquarters in Calgary. “We are very proud to have five players selected for the Canada West selection camp. All five will make a strong case to make the team,” said Harbinson in a release.