By Cassandra Federico, Special to the Times Review
The Grizzly’s season came to a heartbreaking end this weekend. Despite winning two more back-to-back home games, they couldn’t squeeze their way into a playoff position.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. We have been so strong lately, and I don’t think there was a better team in the league since the Christmas Break, so it’s unfortunate we couldn’t secure our spot in the playoffs,” said coach Ryan Parent following Saturday night’s game.
Revelstoke started the weekend one point back of the Sicamous Eagles. They needed to finish ahead of them in the standings because Sicamous held the tie-breaker. Instead, the two teams finished the season tied in points, with the Eagles advancing to the playoffs because they had more wins.
Revelstoke found themselves at Sicamous’ mercy after losing 5-0 to 100 Mile House last Monday. That set the stage for two more must-win games on the weekend.
On Friday, the Grizzlies took on the Kamloops Storm in front of a full building of excited fans. Revelstoke came out on top, and won 3-2.
Before the game began, the Grizzlies handed out three more awards. The first award went to Dean Cruickshank for the Most Dedicated Fan. Ray Speerbrecker was named Senior Fan of the Year. Finally, the Grizzlies announced that Jeff Bochon was voted Fan Favourite.
After a scoreless first period, the Storm finally opened the scoring at 11:10 in the second. Revelstoke responded with a power play goal from Tyler Chavez Leech, assisted by Kyle Baron and Michael Roberts. The score was even at 1-1 going into the third.
Kamloops restored their lead at 11:45, but Revelstoke fired back and tied it up again with a goal from Josh Pilon three minutes later. Just as the game was about to go into overtime, Steven Fiust put one in to take the lead, and win the game for the Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, Sicamous defeated the Spokane Braves to stay ahead of Revelstoke in the standings.
The Chase Heat were in town on Saturday as another massive crowd of nearly 600 came out to support the Grizzlies in their final game of the regular season. They ended the season on a high note with a 4-1 win over the Heat.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies and Revelstoke Minor Hockey pay tribute to Larry Black prior to Saturday’s game against the Chase Heat. Photo by Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review.
The Grizzlies, along with the Revelstoke Minor Hockey players, and the President of the KIJHL, Bill Ohlhausen, took a few minutes before the game to honour the late Larry Black, and remembered the legacy he left for the team and hockey in Revelstoke. Black died of cancer in Kelowna on Dec. 1 at the age of 66.
He was a member of the Revelstoke Selkirks senior men’s team and coached minor hockey here. He went on to be the general manager of the Revelstoke Grizzlies, winning the KIJHL championship in 1997-98. He moved up to become a scout for the Vernon Vipers, where he was part of two national championships. Later, he became the assistant general manager of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Grizzly player Steven Fiust was then honoured with “Rookie of the year” of the Doug Birks Division.
The Grizzlies were first to get on the board at 17:19 when Pilon scored after a nice end-to-end rush. Shortly after, Roberts scored a second for Revelstoke. At 6:25 Carter Huber added a third, with help from Chavez-Leech. Chase made it onto the board at 5:18 to leave the score at 3-1 going into the third.
Roberts scored his second of the game at 8:05, with assists from Brady Mende, and Levi Morin. Chase couldn’t close the gap on the Grizzlies, and the score was left a 4-1 final.
What may have been a celebration was dampened when news spread that Sicamous sent their game to overtime, clinching a playoff spot before the Grizzlies game was even over. That knowledge spread to the Revelstoke bench and was evident in the players subdued reaction to their win.
“We found out that we didn’t get in before the game was over, and we were shocked that the season was over,” said rookie forward Louie Federico.
As the final buzzer went, the players remained on the bench while Chase left the ice. They then skated over to goalie Aiden Doak’s net for a team huddle before skating around the ice and saluting their fans.
Coach Parent went on to talk about his thoughts on the season overall.
“We have had a great group of players this year, and they have came a long ways. 14 of them were affiliated with Junior A teams, and 13 of them actually played in games, which was good to see,” Parent said. “I think we will have a bunch of them return for next season, and we have built a strong foundation to be even more of a force next year.”