With the winding down of the unusual off-season, teams are already preparing for the proposed regular-season start date of December 1. Despite tons of time until a potential season, training camp is already underway, starting in early September for most teams. This leaves teams with lots of time to not only prepare but to be running a tightly knit ship by the time the season begins.
For the Silverbacks there was no hesitation to start building a foundation for the season with camp kicking off on September 1.
Day 1 of camp is underway & it's all battle on the ice right off the hop! pic.twitter.com/cwty5473Bl
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) September 1, 2020
Veteran thoughts and yearly expectations
Camp has been consistent in Salmon Arm, most days depicting of at least an ice time and dryland session. However, it is not easy as said. “It’s been a grind so far, but I think this has been the best out of all the years I’ve been here,” mentioned Shaw.
Second-year forward Bennett commented that the camp’s main focus has been around an intense, high tempo practice mentality. Bennett further explained that not only does this prepare the team for tough games but also to prepare new players for the everyday expectations that come with being a junior A hockey player.
Bennett is an underlying gritty forward, whose high game sense opens play offensively. As well, Shaw is a third-year vet and a solid two-way player. In talking to him further, he takes pride in being a team player, blocking shots, and playing a 200-foot game.
If you would like to find out more on these players head over to the Silverbacks website for an interview Salmon Arm broadcaster Nathan Kanter did earlier this summer.
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) September 4, 2020
With the late start to the season, it seems the Silverbacks veterans are already anxious to play. Forward Simon Tassy says he is ready for fast-paced, highly competitive games, which is a habit these leaders are looking to build in practice and one that starts in practice. It’s definitely fitting for Tassy who is an energetic presence on the ice, creative in the offensive zone but also not afraid to shoot the puck to make plays.
For third-year forward Shaw, he says he misses going to battle for his brothers. Shaw, Tassy, and Bennett are just three of seven returning players, including Sam Schofield, Nick Martino, Kieran Ruscheinski, and captain Hunter Sansbury.
How COVID has directly affected the players
Regardless of the team starting to play again, getting back to the ice is not normal by any means. Many changes have been implemented to combat COVID-19 like the separation of players during games.
Players who just had a shift go straight to the dressing room, and after that transition to the bench and ice. It’s positive knowing these safety measures are being taken, but it causes separation amongst the team during the game which makes it hard to strategize.
When asking Tassy, Shaw, and Bennett about the changes, they mentioned that it’s making it hard to not only bond with new teammates, but stay in a strong mental space for the game.
The players have lots that go on behind the scenes in regards to the mental aspect, superstitions, and preparing for the game in general. The changes that have been made to fight COVID are directly impacting the players, off-Ice preparation, and in-game ability, however, the Silverbacks forwards also acknowledged the fact that they understand that these measures are strictly cautionary and in the best interest of the team and league in during weird times.
If you want to follow up with more Silverbacks camp news, check out the interview with head coach Tyler Shattock in the tweet below on how things have been from the coaching side.
Yesterday we caught up with Head Coach @Shattock_16 to talk about how camp has gone so far!
He chats about the high compete level so far, what the team's style of play will be this season & much more!https://t.co/wKeQ7YAyhZ
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) September 9, 2020
Regardless, it is great to see teams taking all precautionary measures to keep the season going. In lieu of the proposed season, it appears the league has set up an alternate start date which you can read further in on here. The good news is that the players, coaches, and fans can continue to enjoy BCHL hockey this season, regardless whether your seat is in the arena or on the couch.