It’s all Clippers all the time for the Victoria Grizzlies in the B.C. Hockey League.
The Grizzlies embark on a three-consecutive game stint against their Island Division rivals beginning tonight at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo and continuing Saturday night and next Friday at The Q Centre in Colwood
The Clippers (13-6-2) are tied atop the Island Division with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, with Nanaimo having two games in hand.
The defending division champion Grizzlies are 7-16 and finding life much more difficult without the players, such as 2019 NHL first-round draft pick Alex Newhook, who powered last season’s starry team.
“We are youthful but those young legs allow us to play with pace and roll four lines,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
The young Grizzlies are also having a tough time finding the back of the net. Victoria has scored just six goals in its last five games.
“We have been playing well in the offensive zone, but from the dots in, we still have to figure out how to finish. Once one guy figures it out, the others will, too.”
The Grizzlies were denied even a single point Wednesday night when the Capitals scored with just nine seconds remaining in regulation time, on former WHL Victoria Royals forward Tanner Sidaway’s second goal of the night, to win 2-1 in Duncan. It was another in what looks to be a season of teachable moments for the Grizzlies.
“It was a good lesson,” said Didmon.
“Our boys deserved better. But that’s hockey. It will go the other way sometime for us.”
Now comes the triple-header against the other divisional co-leader.
“You get no breaks in this league or this division. Nanaimo is a good team,” said Didmon.
“But last time, we had success up there and want to play a similar game. Both teams will want to have a good start [tonight] to build momentum into Saturday. We have to shut down their top shooters. They have some good offensive players.”
Ethan Scardina, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Bowling Green University, leads the Clippers with 12 goals and 22 points.
“We have to play with pace, which we can do,” said Didmon.
“We showed what we can do [in keeping it close] against Cowichan.”