VICTORIA, B.C. — Hockey is here, at long last, and as the Victoria Grizzlies prepare for their season-opening game on Friday, the BCHL club is proud to announce the roster that will carry the team into that first outing in Duncan against the rival Cowichan Valley Capitals.
The Grizzlies’ lineup is dotted with experience, skill and size, and returning players are a key component for Head Coach/GM Craig Didmon’s team.
Up front, returnees P.J. Conlon and Cole Pickup are complimented by newcomers Brayden Gelsinger, Joey Visconti, Alex Peck, Corey Iapalucci, J.D. Falconer, Sage Fleming, Keyvan Mokhtari and Tyler Welsh. Mitchell Barker and Nick Guiney are other returning players and will be focused on fitting into the top six of the forward unit.
Conlon (six goals, 13 assists, 19 points last season) and Pickup (10-11-21) are expected to take the next step offensively and give added punch around Gelsinger, who had 18 goals and 58 points last season, toiling for Cowichan Valley and West Kelowna.
On defence, veterans Kevin Massy and Cody Van Lierop will have support from newcomers Jake Stevens, Brett Stirling, Cal Walker, Mark Krabben and Drayson Pears. It’s a big group that has shown in pre-season, including Saturday’s 7-2 win over Alberni Valley at Westhills Arena, that it can move the puck efficiently.
Goaltenders Matthew Galajda and Mitchell Benson, two 18-year-old rookies, fared well in pre-season.
“We’re excited about this team, and not just because of the mix of skill, size and leadership,” said Didmon. “This group has shown there is a dedication to our systems and to getting better every day, ready to put in the work it will take to compete in a tough division. We think we have the kind of team that can excite the fans here with our skill and give them yet another Grizzlies team to be proud of and to really get behind in the community.
“We had a competitive, high-tempo camp and it made for some difficult decisions for the coaching staff, but we believe we’ll ice a group nightly that will give us a chance to be successful. It’s a long season and we all have to be ready to battle and play smart hockey.”
The Grizzlies are proud of their franchise history, producing notable NHLers such as Jamie Benn, Jordie Benn, Tyler Bozak, Tyson Barrie, Ryan O’Byrne, Kyle Greentree and Matt Pettinger.
The Grizzlies start the season on the road, including the BCHL Showcase event in Chilliwack, and will see action in five games away from Victoria before returning to the Q Centre onOct. 1 for the home opener against the Coquitlam Express.
2015-16 VICTORIA GRIZZLIES
GOAL — Matthew Galajda, Mitchell Benson.
DEFENCE — Kevin Massy, Cody Van Lierop, Jake Stevens, Brett Stirling, Cal Walker, Mark Krabben, Drayson Pears.
FORWARD — P.J. Conlon, Cole Pickup, Brayden Gelsinger, Mitchell Barker, Nick Guiney, Tyler Welsh, Joey Visconti, Alex Peck, Corey Iapalucci, J.D. Falconer, Sage Fleming, Keyvan Mokhtari, Spencer Hunter.