Terrace’s Brendan and Jeff Kennedy are taking on their first year of Junior A hockey in the BC Hockey League, and head coach for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks says they’re cutting it on the ice.
“They’re difference makers, we’re better when they are in our lineup,” said Colin O’Hara, who is also general manager for the team.
Both players moved to the team after spending two years playing on the Midget AAAA team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy, which is a part of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, in Penticton.
And Brendan and Jeff say they are pleased with their choice to become SilverBacks this season.
“We are really enjoying ourselves,” Brendan said, adding the team gets along well and the coach is awesome.
“He (O’Hara) has a lot to teach us, and everyone wants to learn,” he continued.
Both he and Jeff say they like living in Salmon Arm, which given its population of about 16,000, feels a little more like Terrace to them than Penticton did.
“People here know each other, it’s kind of like back home,” Brendan explained.
Both players prepared well for their first year of Junior A hockey and final year of high school. They completed some of their Grade 12 course load last year in Penticton, something they both said has really freed up a lot of time this season for hockey.
“It’s a change of pace for us for sure, a little less school, and a little more hockey,” Jeff said, noting the SilverBacks 60 game season, which he said seems long, but is actually going by really fast.
In regards to actual play on the ice, Jeff said while the game itself isn’t really faster, everything within the game moves at a quicker pace.
“It’s way more organized, and everything happens quick,” he explained.
And Brendan agreed that there is an obvious adjustment from major midget to Junior A.
“It’s been an eye opener, you have to adapt pretty fast,” he said, adding that it’s just becoming easier and easier.
O’Hara said that while both players are in different roles on the ice (Jeff is a forward and Brendan plays defence), they are both used to kill penalties for the team.
With three wins and eight losses, it’s been a slow start for the SilverBacks, but with 15 fresh faces out of a roster of 21, O’Hara explains the group is starting to come together.
“We are struggling a little, but I would say we are finding ways to lose as opposed to win,” O’Hara said. “There has been a learning curve for sure, but it’s getting better.”
O’Hara said both are already attracting interest from the NCAA (American universities).
“There is a lot of schools that have expressed interest, it’s just that they are 17,” O’Hara said.
“They (the schools) like how they play the game,” O’Hara said. “They play it hard and they play it honest.”
Both Brendan and Jeff have previously expressed that playing university hockey is definitely a route they are looking to travel.