Wade Murphy admits its going to be a little strange tonight when he walks into Bear Mountain Arena.
Ditto for Zach Urban and D.J. Jones.
Murphy the former Victoria Grizzlies sharpshooter leads his B.C. Hockey League and Royal Bank Cup-champion Penticton Vees into the rink to face Urban and Jones, his previous Penticton teammates, who now toil for the Grizzlies.
It will be a weird evening all the way around for the trio, who shared an amazing finish to their 2011-12 season after Murphy was traded to the high-flying Vees at the deadline last January. That included a 42-game win streak that captured the interest of the entire country.
Its going to be different heading to the other dressing room and coming in that other door, admitted Murphy, who has five goals and 12 assists to sit second in league scoring as the Vees are off to another fabulous start at 9-1. I am excited about this.
Its been on my calendar for quite a while. It will be strange not having the crowd on my side, but its still going to be a fun night.
Urban and Jones feel the same way, although many of the faces have changed for all three players.
Nolan DeJong, Chaise Kaiser and Myles Powell are the only bodies remaining who played with Murphy in Victoria last season. There are just four returnees from the Vees who Urban and Jones regularly played with in Penticton. Mark McLellan was traded to Victoria as part of the deal for Murphy but played less of a role with the Vees.
Itll be a little different playing against your old team and seeing the few familiar faces that came back, along with some of the APs [affiliated players] that were with us, said Urban. Im glad to get the first one against them at home here in Victoria. It should be a great game and itll obviously be a great test, so we want to put our best foot forward.
Its been a big turnaround, but they recruit well and you have to give that to them, Urban added of the Vees. Theyre obviously a great team No. 1 in the country and the best team in our league. Theyre a team were looking forward to playing, especially coming off that loss in Powell River. Who better to beat than the reigning national champs.
That will be a tall order for the 6-4-0-1 Grizzlies, who have slid of late. Meanwhile, the Vees are a staggering 63-5-0-2 in regular-season play dating back to the start of 2011-12.
Me and Zach are both looking forward to it and you can include Mac [McLellan], who spent a little time there, too, Jones said of the challenge. You like to think about every game the same way, but this one is going to be special. We had special moments with that team last year. It was a very special team so it will be good to see some of those guys and Im sure it will be a fun one.
But a game is a game and the competitiveness will be there from the opening faceoff.
Ill be excited in warmups, but once the puck drops, its game on, said Jones, who along with Urban received their championship rings from the incredible season in Penticton. Obviously, theyre doing pretty well right now. Theyve had a great start to the season and theyre coming in as the No. 1 team in the country and it would be good to knock them off.
Grizzlies head coach and general manager Bill Bestwick knows his team will have to be at its best to catch Fred Harbison and his squad off guard.
Im telling Harbison were playing at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre so that we can at least get a jump on them in the first period, Bestwick said with a chuckle.
Game time is 7:15 p.m. at the Bear.
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