This article first appeared in print in the October/November issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
They won the KIJHL league championship. Then they won the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial championship. So what’s next for the Revelstoke Grizzlies?
That’s the position the Junior B team that filled up the Revelstoke Forum night after night last season are in. But GM Ryan Parent is confident the Grizzlies will remain a contender this year.
“What some people forget is we were really good the year before, too. We went right to the finals,” Parent says. “This past year we won the league, we won the Cyclone. The bar is set. We want to be a pinnacle team in the league, year after year. That would be the goal.”
This year the Grizzlies will have some changes throughout the entire franchise, from coaching personnel to players. Guys who have become household names in the Forum over the last four years like Ullar Wiatska and Tommy Bodtker have moved on, and a group of new young guns have come in to fill their shoes. Here’s a guide to the new squad:
Beginning behind the bench, Lukas Lomicky has replaced Parent as head coach. Parent, who won the league’s coach of the year in 2018, and the division coach of the year in 2019, will continue to be the GM and President of the team.
Lomicky has been the Grizzlies assistant coach for the last two years and has coached in both junior and pro levels in the Czech Republic before joining the Grizzlies.
“We wanted to maintain the continuity in our program,” says Parent. “So having Lukas step in has given us the opportunity to maintain (that) continuity. The players are familiar with Lukas … he’s a very experienced guy, he has a masters degree in coaching, he’s coached in the pro and junior level, so he’s very good.”
Lomicky, who coached the Karlovy Vary team in the professional Czech Extraliga before the Grizzlies, says he’s excited to make the move to head coach, but says that not much will really be changing, as they will still be playing Grizzlies hockey.
“I think we are going to be a little bit of a different team than last year. I think we are much younger, so it’s going to be about the development of those kids,” Lomicky says. “Our forwards are almost all brand new, so that will be a challenge for us, but most players coming in, we can see potential, and we can teach them how to play the Grizzlies way.”
Another familiar face returning is 19-year-old Colorado-born goaltender Noah Desouza. Last year he had 15 wins and two losses serving as the Grizzlies backup. Lomicky says he’s a solid goaltender and they will look to him to be the Grizzlies starter this year.
On offence, the team will have Cody Flann returning for his third year in a Grizzlies jersey. Flann finished last season with 55 points, the second highest on the team, and will again be one of the leaders to keep an eye on. The other two forwards returning to add some leadership are Cash Sawchyn and Revelstoke’s own Raymond Speerbrecker.
The Grizzlies defence will also continue to have hometown players Matt Cadden, Rider McCallum and Dalton Irvine returning from the championship roster, as well as Brenden Vulcano and Jordan Kohlman.
Young guns to watch
Parent says one guy to watch this year is rookie forward Cody Quinton. He’s done some ‘early damage’ this pre-season, the GM says, and he hopes that will translate into some goals in the regular season.
Another player Parent is excited to have on the team is goaltender Drew Palm. “He’s a new recruit (that’s) been steady back there for us, a new guy in the pipes. So he’ll be a really good addition.”
At the time of print, the Parent and Lomicky had not chosen a team captain, but they say that will unfold within the next couple weeks.[Note: Since publication, the Grizzlies have named Raymond Speerbrecker as captain.]
“Obviously we have some good leaders in the mix though. I mean, when you go all the way and win, you’ve got leadership throughout your entire room,” Parent says. “If you take a look at some of the returning guys, and even some of the young guys coming in, I think that we’ve got some pretty good leaders in the mix.”
One of the keys to staying on track with last season will be getting off to a good start, Parent says. Like last season, the team will have a lot of games on the road early on, and he says they’ll need to be sharp right off the start.
Opposing teams will also continue to have the arduous task of playing in the Revelstoke Forum.
“Everybody knows it’s a hard place to win against us,” Parent says of the Revelstoke arena. “It’s going to be tough to play against the Revelstoke Grizzlies every night. I think it’s going to be hard to come in and play us.”
Lomicky also attested to the advantage of the hometown crowd. “I appreciate the community and the people’s support the last couple years,” he adds. “Because it’s a huge help when you’ve got like 800-1,000 people in the Forum and they cheer for you. It’s like a sixth player on the ice.”
Check the Revelstoke Mountaineer events calendar in print and online for Revelstoke Grizzlies home game times.