The Revelstoke Grizzlies were swept out of the playoffs on Sunday, losing their first round series to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in four games.
“That’s three years that just ended tonight,” said captain Kenny Batke. “I can’t say I’m disappointed because everyone worked hard, but to see it come to an end in one night is never easy.”
Revelstoke went into the playoffs as underdogs against the division winners from 100 Mile, who iced a bigger and more experience team. They travelled to 100 Mile House last Tuesday, Feb. 23, ahead of game one on Wednesday.
The teams traded goals in the first period, with Ryan Friesen scoring for 100 Mile and Kyle Berry evening things up for Revelstoke.
Stephen Egan put 100 Mile up 2-1 with a goal midway through the second and Michael Lynch added to the Wranglers lead four minutes into the third.
Brady Mende led the Grizzlies comeback, scoring twice in the third, including the tying goal with 22 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Justin Bond scored the game winner in overtime, giving 100 Mile the win.
“Game one could have went either way,” said coach Ryan Parent. “You saw two evenly matched teams.”
That even match up was skewed in game two on Thursday, when the Wranglers trampled on the Grizzlies penalty killing, scoring five power play goals in 11 chance on their way to a 9-4 win.
The teams traded goals in the first, with Michael Lynch scoring for the Wranglers and Aaron Aragon netting a power play goal for Revelstoke.
The teams scored 54 seconds apart in the third minute of the second, with Tyler Povelofskie putting 100 Mile up a goal and Ryan Pereverzoff evening things up a minute later.
After that, the Grizzlies ran into penalty trouble, giving up six more goals, including four while shorthanded, to fall behind 8–2 before the second was over.
Ryan Hozjan and Jeff Bochon scored in the third for Revelstoke, put Alex Hanson added one more for 100 Mile to make it a 9-4 final.
Parent said he thought his team kept up with the Wranglers at even strength, but the penalties cost them. He was critical of the refereeing.
“There’s committed infractions on both sides and you’re not getting a call, you’re beginning to wonder what’s going on here,” he said. “To survive 8 or 9 penalty kills in a row, it’s tough.”
Game three saw the teams take the ice in front of a packed house at the Revelstoke Forum. The Wranglers had the best chance to score in the first when they were awarded a two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay. The Grizzlies killed it off with some gutsy penalty killing and some big saves by Trevor Dilauro, keeping the game scoreless at the intermission.
The Grizzlies effort paid off when Wyatt Gottschalk tapped home a shot from in front to give Revelstoke a 1-0 lead four minutes into the second. Revelstoke attempted to hold off 100 Mile from there. Steven Fiust had the Grizzlie’s best chance to score when he busted in on a partial breakaway, but he was unable to put the puck past Wranglers’ goaltender Adam Derochie.
Jayson Gilding tied the game 6.5 minutes into the third period. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way through regulation, sending the game to overtime.
The team’s went back and forth in overtime, but the Wranglers came out on top when Povelofskie took advantage of a bad Grizzlies line change to break down the wing and fire the winner past Dilauro.
The team’s were back it at the Forum on Sunday night for game four. The game was a tight-checking affair in the first, with neither team able to generate much in the way of scoring chances.
The Grizzlies got on the board early in the second when Jackson Fulton fired home a point shot, past Wranglers’ goaltender Zane Steeves.
Nicholas Higgs made it 2-0 Revelstoke when he scored from the top of the circle with just over a minuted to play in the second. 100 Mile got one goal back when Tavis Roche’s point shot found its way past goaltender Trevor Dilauro with 16 seconds left in the frame. “You’d like to have that one back but for me, I don’t think it had any impact on us other than they scored the goal,” said Parent.
The Wranglers tied the game when Justin Bond scored on the power play early in the third. Cole Zimmerman got the game winner, also on the power play, with just under seven minutes to go.
The Grizzlies pushed hard for the tying goal in the final minutes, but they were unable to get a third puck past Steeves, who made 37 saves in the win.
“I think over a seven game series, I could say we had a little bit of bad luck, but I thought our group played well,” said Parent following Sunday’s loss. “Two overtimes and a one goal loss in today’s game — I thought our guys played their asses off.”
The Grizzlies began the season with high expectations, with Parent telling the Review he felt the team had a chance to contend. Playing in the toughest division in the league, they were never able to rack up wins consistently and struggled down the stretch, finishing the regular season with 49 points in 52 games.
Still, Parent said he was happy of the progress the organization has made — from last place in the KIJHL three years ago, to the cusp of the playoffs last season, to this year’s first round loss.
“This is good experience for those guys,” he said. “Now those veterans take that into next season and you have a round of playoffs under you belt, you know the pressures and you know how to respond to those pressures.”
The Grizzlies are certain to lose the core of their defence for next year. Batke was in his final year of junior and is committed to Trinity Western University for next year, while 19-year-olds Jackson Fulton and Kyle Baron will both be heading to the University of Jamestown. Leading scorer Brady Mende also played his last season of junior.
The work to re-stock the team will begin the first weekend of April, when Revelstoke hosts its spring camp at the Forum, with coaches and scouts from several Junior A teams in attendance.
“I would expect to see some of the future players of this team at that camp,” said Parent.