The Salmon Arm Silverbacks came out swinging this season.
“I think we were extremely prepared,” new head coach Tyler Shattock told Global News on Thursday.
The gorillas cut a swath through the jungle to start the season, posting an impressive record of 19-6-1.
“We were physically ahead of some other teams, which gave us a leg up,” said Shattock.
By December, though, the Silverbacks couldn’t swing that second over, and welcome to the jungle wasn’t so much fun and games anymore.
The team hit the skids, going 1-8 before management stepped in, with head coach Scott Atkinson being relieved of his duties and assistant coach Tyler Shattock taking over.
A little more than a month later, Silverbacks fans say the team is back.
“Everyone thought ‘Uh, oh, this is the end, we’re going downhill.’ But suddenly they seemed to have turned it around,” said one fan while attending Wednesday’s game.
“They’ve had their ups and downs, but have seemed to pull it together now,” commented another fan.
“They made some trades, they had a little bit of slip, but they are coming back,” said another Silverbacks supporter.
For players, a mid-season coaching change is a severe shake-up.
“Obviously it’s an adjustment, something a lot of us aren’t use to,” said veteran goaltender Ethan Langenegger. “But, yeah, I think we’ve rallied around it.”
With just five games remaining in the regular-season schedule, Salmon Arm is looking to lock down third place in Interior Division standings.
“We’re feeling really good about ourselves, we’re playing playoff hockey right now and really gearing up for a long run,” said Langenegger.
The Silverbacks’ new head coach, a native son of Salmon Arm, couldn’t agree more.
“As long as we kind of stick to what makes us successful as a team,” said Shattock, “I think we will be good here come down the line.”