It is a tradition, particularly in sports in Commonwealth countries, to award a wooden spoon to the last-place team in a competition or season.
The practice is not as well known in this neck of the Commonwealth. If it was, Saturday night’s B.C. Hockey League game at The Q Centre might have been dubbed the wooden-spoon derby.
With 16 of the 17 teams qualifying, it’s hard to miss the BCHL playoffs. The race for that dubious honour of being the odd team out might come down to the Merritt Centennials, West Kelowna Warriors or Victoria Grizzlies, who trail at the bottom of the table.
Two of those stragglers met in Colwood on Saturday with the Grizzlies (8-19) winning the battle to try to avoid the wooden spoon with a 6-3 victory over the Centennials (5-15-1). The result snapped an eight-game home losing streak for the Grizzlies.
Victoria came into the game having scored only nine goals in its past eight games, but busted out of that scoring slump on two goals each by Cody Monds and Henri Schreifels, with the others coming from Isack Bandu and captain Marty Westhaver.
This is all new territory for the Grizzlies, who have spent more time in recent seasons hovering near the top of the BCHL Island Division than floundering at the foot of the table. That’s what having players such as 2019 NHL first-round draft pick Alex Newhook does for you.
But Newhook and other NHL draft picks from last year’s team — Alex Campbell (Nashville Predators), Carter Berger (Florida Panthers) and Riley Hughes (New York Rangers) — have all moved on.
The Grizzlies are now young and in a rebuilding phase.
Joe Howe, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Cornell Big Red, made 36 saves in goal for the Grizzlies on Saturday to be named game second star behind Monds.
The Grizzlies got 24 shots on Cents’ goaltender Tanner Marshall. Westhaver and Monds had three point-nights while game third-star and blueliner Jake Veilleux added two assists.
Talon Zakall led the Centennials with a goal and assist.
The Grizzlies next play Friday and next Saturday at Powell River against the Kings.