Cody Monds starts to hit stride for Victoria Grizzlies

It took a while, but Cody Monds has finally shifted into high gear.

The Victoria Grizzlies talented rookie winger goes into tonight’s B.C. Hockey League contest at Frank Crane Arena against the Nanaimo Clippers riding an eight-game point streak and even though his team has been hot and cold in the last month, Monds remains red hot. His goal and assist in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Surrey Eagles gives the 18-year-old from Brockville, Ont., six goals and nine assists in his last eight games. In fact, the last time Monds was held without a point, was in a 1-0 loss to the Clippers back on Nov. 15.

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“I was always confident in my abilities but then I got off to a slow start this season, and the team wasn’t playing too well either so it just took a little longer than expected to really get going,” said Monds, who leads the Grizzlies in scoring with 32 points in 34 games, good for 15th overall in the BCHL.

“But now we’re playing better and I’ve got great linemates in Marty [Westhaver], who’s a super smart and talented player and guys like [Vincent] Nardone and [Alex] DiPaolo are great with the puck so that makes my job a lot easier.”

Monds came west after putting up big points at Northwood Prep School in Lake Placid, New York, the past two season. It helped earn him an NCAA Div. 1 scholarship to Providence College in Rhode Island for the fall of 2021. He has been one of a few bright spots on a young Grizzlies team this season as they rebuild from last season’s star-studded squad that featured four NHL draft picks, including Colorado Avalanche first-round pick Alex Newhook, who is currently at the Canadian world junior team selection camp in Oakville, Ont.

“We knew coming in Cody would be an impact player right away,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon, whose 11-23 team will look to end a two-game slide tonight against the 22-8-3 Clippers.

“We talked at the start of the year about him being a point-a-game player, and we knew it may take him a while to adjust and get there but as the season rounds out, you’ll see that’s the case.”

Didmon was also surprised Monds, who leads all BCHL rookies in scoring, wasn’t invited to the Team Canada West selection camp for the World Junior A Challenge that is happening right now in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.

“I know he was disappointed he didn’t get invited to that camp and you’re seeing in these last several games that he’s using that as motivation, much like Newhook did when he didn’t make the team in his first year here. Cody is a competitor who wants to be the best and [not getting the Team Canada West invite] has added fuel to that fire.”

So now Monds and the Grizzlies turn their attention to back-to-back games against the Clippers.

“They’re a fast and talented team and in first place for a reason,” said Monds. “So we’re treating these games as four-point games and we need to come out with high intenstity because we’re not where we want to be in the standings right now and it’s time to change that starting with these two games.”

LOOSE PUCKS: The Grizzlies will again be without six players due to injuries as goaltender Liam Souliere, defencemen Brady MacDonald, Reid Lindsay and James Davenport, and forwards Eddie Yan and Trevor Bishop remain out. Forward Henri Schreifels does return tonight after missing the past two games due to suspension. . . . . The Clippers are without two of their best players as Kyler Kovich and Ethan Scardina are away with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. . . . Following the two games with the Clippers, the Grizzlies play host to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday afternoon at The Q Centre.

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