The Revelstoke Grizzlies capped off a dominant regular season with a 3-1 win over the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The team ended the season with the third best record in the KIJHL, finishing with 42 wins, 6 losses and 85 points.
The Grizzlies’ Okanagan/Shuswap Conference rivals Kelowna Chiefs took the top spot in the regular season, finishing the season with 89 points.
The Kimberley Dynamiters, who defeated the Grizzlies in the 2017–18 KIJHL finals, took second place in the league and first place in the Kootenay Conference, finishing with 88 points.
The Grizzlies finished atop the Doug Birks Division in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference, and will have to win two division series to make it to the Okanagan/Shuswap final.
In the first round, they will play the Kamloops Storm, who had a 19–26-1-1-2 record in the regular season.
Revelstoke Grizzlies head coach Ryan Parent said he has high hopes for the post season. “We are looking to do some damage moving forward here,” Parent said. “Our last 10 games have been good. We’ve been good all season, but now the real season starts. We need to show we’re deserving of what we earned during the regular season.”
A review of the individual player stats shows that the Grizzlies’ success this season has been due to teamwork.
Kaeden Patrick was the top points earner for the Grizzlies, finishing in 14th in the KIJHL, with 57 points and 26 goals. By comparison, the Kelowna Chiefs had six players in the top 12.
“I think we’ll rely on our depth [in the playoffs]. I am never afraid to put any of our guys in ant situation, almost,” Parent said.
He added that the playoffs are a whole new season, and the team can’t take anything for granted. “Round one can be tough. Last year we were the first seed against Kamloops … and it went six games at it was nail-biter games.”
Although the standard line from all coaches is that they’ll take the playoffs one game, one series at a time, the Grizzlies’ regular season performance has left high expectations in the community for the team’s post-season play.
The Kelowna Chiefs are the team to beat in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference, and the teams have played several close matches over the season, including multiple-overtime games.
On Friday, Feb. 22, the Grizzlies lost 3-2 to the Chiefs in overtime.
“I think the last game in Kelowna was good for us,” Parent said. “It gave us a little playoff warm up and we’re going to be ready going into the post season.”
“Kelowna has got a good team. I think we match up well against Kelowna. In the playoffs you’re looking game by game and series by series. We are not getting ahead of ourselves,” Parent said.
The team is entering the playoffs with a fairly healthy roster. Currently, Dalton Irvine is out with a lower body injury.
Plan to get to the Forum early for playoff games. The beer garden side has been selling out throughout the season, and if last year’s playoff run is an indicator, it will be busy at the rink.
“We’re starting to be the thing to do in town,” Parent said of the very high attendance levels this year.
The Grizzlies play the first game of the playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Forum, then again on Wednesday night, also at home. All Revelstoke home games start at 7 p.m.
The series heads to Kamloops on Mar. 1 and 2 for two away games.
If needed, the remaining games are on Mar. 4th in Revelstoke, the 5th in Kamloops and the 6th in Revelstoke.
The Grizzlies held their annual awards banquet this week. Here are the results:
Carter Anderson received the Most Dedicated Player award; Raymond Speerbrecker earned the Most Improved Player award; Nathan Bailer was recognized as the Most Inspirational Player; Tommy Bodtker was recognized as the Most Valuable Player; Ethan Schaeffer was recognized as the Rookie of the Year; Dalton Irvine was awarded Top Defenceman award; and Cash Sawchyn was recognized with the Unsung Hero award.