VICTORIA, B.C. — The Victoria Grizzlies knew that perseverance would pay off, and it has.
The Grizzlies (9-13-0-3), who were on the wrong end of so many one-goal games in the first portion of the BCHL season, have found that key to coming out on top in those close games.
The Grizzlies have escaped last place in the division, and have put themselves just eight points back of the top rung on the Island Division ladder with plenty of schedule to play. Every game will be a battle from this point forward, as nothing in junior hockey ever gets easier — the soft do not survive, and the Grizzlies continue to be pushed to show each night that this is anything but a soft hockey team.
The Grizzlies have a least a point in seven of their last eight games, picking up 13 points in that span. The lone point-free game? That was Sunday in Trail, a 2-1 loss to the host Smokeaters in which the Grizzlies, playing their third game in as many days on a grueling road trip, outshot Trail by a 2:1 ratio (30-15) and Victoria both hit a post and had the puck behind the goaltender and in the crease in the final 90 seconds.
The good news is the Grizzlies will get another shot at Trail, this time on home ice, on Thursday, a 7pm start at The Q Centre. The night before sees the Grizzlies in Nanaimo to play the Clippers in a Wednesday clash, then the three-games-in-three-nights stretch concludes Friday with another home game, 7pm against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Brayden Gelsinger (5 goals, 21 assists, 26 points) finds himself in the top 20 in league scoring, the only player averaging a point-per-game, and the Grizzlies are anything but a one-line team with contributions throughout the forward lines. On any night, it seems to be a different combination chipping in with secondary scoring behind top snipers and point-getters Keyvan Mokhtari, Tyler Welsh and Nick Guiney, who leads the team in goals with eight. Gelsinger, Mokhtari and Welsh, all speedsters, are the only Grizzlies with double-digits in assists. Add in consistent point-production from other forwards, with more contributions from an attacking blueline group, and those one-goal games could turn into results with more breathing room.
It’s a busy promotional stretch for the Grizzlies as well, who now offer a special Christmas Pack — six adult tickets for $60, vouchers that can be used any game, and available for a limited time through the team office or the ticket window.
Thursday’s home game also marks the debut of the GRIZZLIES GIRLS cheerleading squad, that has been working on their routines and ways to keep the fans supporting their Grizzlies. Come out and see what the GRIZZLIES GIRLS group is all about!
THURSDAY, NOV. 19, vs. TRAIL — The rematch from Sunday’s battle in Trail, featuring the DDT Drumline performance in the first intermission. The Family Four Pack, $44, is the best deal in town.
FRIDAY, NOV. 20, vs. COWICHAN VALLEY — Rivalry renewed as the Capitals come to town for MILITARY NIGHT. The anthem will be done by Naden Band, the 50-50 draw supports Wounded Warriors, a by-donation photo booth will be on site, and a sledge hockey demo will take to the ice during an intermission. A can’t-miss night of hockey and entertainment.
Further upcoming games, and special promotions:
FRIDAY, NOV. 27, vs. NANAIMO — DDT Drumline is back helping to support CFAX Santas Anonymous, accepting gifts of money, food, and other items. Boxes will be in place until the Dec. 17th Teddy Bear Toss game.
SATURDAY, NOV. 28, vs. ALBERNI VALLEY — The game with the rival Bulldogs will feature the Victoria Male Vocal Choir doing the anthem, and the popular Let’s Make A Deal intermission contest. After the game, meet the Grizzlies players at a special event at Boston Pizza in Langford.