After three weekends of not playing on the road, the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies were looking forward to playing inside the home confines of the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood. However, following a tie to the last place team in the league Sept. 27 and an outright loss on Sept. 28, perhaps the road may be more be appealing to the young club as they try to gel as a team having undergone a roster overhaul in the off-season.
On Friday, Sept. 27, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs were clearly the aggressors early on, despite the adrenaline-producing pre-game player introductions and the supposed excitement of finally playing in front of the home fans.
Alberni took at 2-0 lead midway through the first period, silencing the 1300 Bear Mountain faithful in attendance. The Grizzlies finally started to gel as a team and thanks to Jay Mackie, were able to chisel away at the lead with an even-strength first period goal that cut the lead to 2-1. The only goal of the second period came from sophomore defenceman Mitch Meek on the power play.
A scoreless third period paved the way for exciting 4 on 4 and 3 on 3 overtime sessions. Despite some glorious late chances by each team, the game ended in a tie, offering Alberni their first point of the season and the Grizzlies lamenting an opportunity lost for two points.
The next day saw the return of last year’s team captain, Zach Urban, as a member of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Trades had previously seen him leave and then return to the BCHL. Perhaps it was fitting that the natural leader was able to rally his young ‘Backs team to the victory as they outplayed the Grizzlies, earning a 4-2 win.
The 1100-plus fans on Saturday did get to see two of the Fitzgerald triplets get their first home-ice points, with Gerry getting a goal and an assist to go along with Myles’ pair of helpers. But it wasn’t enough, as the home team was held scoreless in a third period that they needed to win.
The team as a whole was not cohesive during the two home games. It is still early in the season, but it was also evident that the team misses the third Fitzgerald triplet, Leo. The other two are observably more effective when all three are in the lineup.
The Grizzlies since traveled to the interior for a pair of weekend games against the Merritt Centennials and Prince George Cougars. After the rough home weekend, the road games provided a potential opportunity to get back on the right track. The grizzlies split the road outing, dropping a tight one to Prince George and squeaking past Merritt.
The Grizzlies return home to face the Nanaimo Clippers this Friday, Oct. 11. Then they head straight back on the road for a pair of games up-island. Tickets for Grizzlies home games can be bought online at www.victoriagrizzlies.com or by calling 250-385-1555.