With two hard fought victories last weekend, the Grizzlies have reasserted themselves as the top team on the Island. The Grizzlies, battled hard for 6 periods plus 3 OT periods in wins against the reigning RBC Cup Champions the Penticton Vees and a hard working Bulldog team. In doing so, this Grizzlies team has shown they will fight tooth and nail to get a victory. Those results have really made the rest of the league sit up and take notice.
Bill Bestwick’s brand of hockey it being translated very nicely on the ice, as a team that plays all three periods of hockey and combines skill and hard work with a high tempo approach to most games. This is a bigger, tougher Grizzlies team than we’ve seen in the past which is working to good effect.
Turner Lawson for example. Lawson is pointless so far this season, but, when he’s on the ice he hits, wins the battles against the boards and in the corners and does the little things for the team that produces wins at this level.
Overall, scoring is an issue, but, some hard work and everyone battling for each other has seen the Grizzlies take top spot for most of the first ten games.
With the Grizzlies welcoming back Chase Kaiser and Justin Coachman last weekend, it showed the depth this team has and that will be a key factor as the season progresses.
Which brings us to this weekend, where the Grizzlies who have only lost once on home ice this season, entertain the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Smokies have struggle at times this season and are on a 4 games losing streak at the moment. Head Coach, Bill Birks does have some talent on his team and this is by no means a victory in the bag for the Grizzlies. No games are at this level.
Trail, will be counting on former Oceanside General and Island boy Brent Baltus, who is the team leader with 10 points so far this season. With former Bulldog, Tyler Berkholtz and experienced defensemen in Djordje Leposavic, Marley Keca and former Grizz, Braden Pears a Victoria born player, Trail should make a decent game of it.
The Smoke Eaters have sadly been victims of players not reporting, in Max Mowat and guys looking for a trade and leaving the team, in Tanner Clarkson. Both, are good forwards who could have really made a difference for Trail this season
As we only get to see the Interior teams once at Bear Mountain this season, watching a team like the Smoke Eaters who have years of history and tradition in Canadian hockey is always a treat.
With fans coming back, the atmosphere fun and alive and with this brand of Grizzlies hockey as fast paced, hard-nosed and entertaining as it has been, we’ll see you Friday night v’s Trail.