Thursday, 13 September 2012

Home Opener Preview: Grizzlies v Powell River - 7:15pm, Friday, Sept 14th @ Bear Mtn Arena

So the home opener begins with a BBQ in the afternoon, the Green Men on our side against the Kings and a chance for Bill Bestwick and Craig Didmon’s Grizzlies to show their stuff in front of the home town crowd. With new ownership, marketing and coaching in place, the Grizzlies are a different organization now, with the franchise improved on all fronts. Respectability and a real effort to bring the fans back is underway and with the on ice and off ice product heading in the right direction, this should put bums back in seat.
On the ice the Fitzgerald triplets should add a new dimension to the team with their skating, skill and hockey sense which should drive the Grizzlies attack this season. With Hartskamp, Lawson, Skrbich, Hahn and Kaiser to name a few up front, they should add a dimension of experience and talent from a team that will need scoring from all four lines to start the season with. With David Walchuk, Powell and McLellan coming into their second season, plenty will be expected of them to step it up this season and on the evidence of the first two games, they look very capable of doing that.
In the defence, DeJong, Jones, Urban, Thompson, Schmeisser , Coachman and rookie Mitch Meek, should give the team as good a rearguard as any in the BCHL this season/
In goal, both Rouleau and Stiliadis look like a good tandem thus far and both impressed in different areas of their games, as each of them got a start at the showcase.
Standing in the way of the Grizzlies, to put it mildly has been our bogie team over the last few seasons; Kent Lewis’s, Powell River Kings. The Kings have tormented the Grizzlies in the regular season and in the playoffs. This will be a tough game to be sure, but, a game that should prove to be hard fought and not an inch given on either side.
The Grizzlies will need to be weary of the Kings, who had a number of very good graduating players leave from last season, but, still have a quality team. Evan Richardson, a former Victoria player himself who was the attention of numerous WHL and NHL scouts at the showcase from what I saw, will need to be watched like a hawk. As well as Richardson, the Kings also have back Jarryd Leung, JP Villeneuve, Matt Scarth and Joe Blanton giving the Kings a very good core group back. With the addition of Rookies like Luke Nogard and Jordan Burns the Kings should still be one of the favourites in the Island Division. One player you won’t see at this time in a Kings uniform is former Grizzlie Teal Burns. Teal who played for the Kings last season, but, didn’t report back for training camp has been suspended by the BCHL for failing to report.

But, the Kings will find the Grizzlies a different animal this season (not one who allows them to pick up our Teddy bears). Bill Bestwick teams are hard working and play three periods of hockey. This team will be a little more hard nosed and well rounded and should give not only the Kings, but, any BCHL opposition a challenge this season. Seeing a Grizzlies team that forechecks has been very pleasent to see so far.
For old and new fans alike, come check out the new and improved Grizzlies as I think you’ll find this new and improved Victoria outfit, a hardworking entertaining team as well as a professional fan friendly product off the ice as well.
So the stage is set. It’s the home opener with Bill Bestwick the new man at the helm, the Green Men in the house, the Fitzgerald triplets making their home debuts and reasonable ticket prices being among us; now throw in a BBQ starting 5pm………. what are you waiting for, come on and cheer on your 2012/13 Victoria Grizzlies on Friday night, Sept 14th at 7:15pm.

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