“I think we’ve got more depth in scoring, we’re bigger and stronger, but I don’t want to say too much or read into anything.”
That’s what Sicamous Eagles coach Wayne March said before the series between his team and the Revelstoke Grizzlies. So far, his words have proved prescient. Up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Sicamous Eagles have looked bigger, stronger, faster and more experienced.
“They have a very good hockey team, a very deep hockey team,” said Grizzlies coach Kevin Kraus following a 6-2 loss in game four. “It’s very tough to get an advantage against them because they have four deep lines and they have guys who know how to play in playoffs.”
The Revelstoke Grizzlies find themselves facing elimination after losing twice on home ice – 6-3 on Monday and 6-2 on Tuesday. Both games featured similar patterns, with the Eagles jumping out to early 4-0 leads and then cruising to victory, utilizing a strong forecheck to pressure the Grizzlies defence, keep them hemmed in their own zone and preventing them from mounting any sort of a comeback.
On Monday, Brayden Taekema, Steven Powers, Dominick Hodges and Alex Dartnall scored first period goals for Sicamous before Brayden Beckley got Revelstoke on the board late in the frame. Beckley’s second goal of the game 16 seconds into the second period got the Grizzlies within two, but they were never able to get any closer. Brendan Devries scored for Sicamous five minutes later and Dylan Ossman countered for Revelstoke on the powerplay with 6:19 left in the period. In the third, Sicamous got the clinching goal from Jordan Harder and coasted to a 6-3 win.
Game four on Tuesday was much the same. Taekema, Devries and Quinn Rempel scored for the Eagles in the first, and Taekema scored his second of the game early in the third to once again put Sicamous up 4-0. Goals by Nathan Grieve and Nicholas Asasiewicz 48 seconds apart early in the third gave the Eagles an insurmountable 6-0 lead. There was a glimmer or hope when Austin Donaldson and Dylan Ossman responded quickly for Revelstoke. That was followed shortly after by a Grizzlies power play but once Sicamous killed that off, the game was sealed.
“We couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t pass, we couldn’t get to the net, we couldn’t break out, we couldn’t get a bounce in our own arena,” said Kraus. “Everything seemed to go their way and they deserve it. They came to play the last three games and either we haven’t or they’re that good.”
Kraus seemed to be searching for answers following the two losses on home ice. He talked about the need to react better under pressure, to make better passes, to play better defensively. He cited the Eagles playoff experience and the Grizzlies lack of the same as factors.
“We need to stop panicking with the puck,” he said. “Every time there’s a loose puck and we can settle it down and skate it away from pressure, we just seem to throw it right back into pressure. That’s youth, that’s inexperience.”
Game five is set for Thursday, Feb. 28, in Sicamous. Kraus said the team will have to play better defensively to force a game six in Revelstoke on Friday; they won’t win giving up five or six goals per game.
“Our backs are against the wall,” he said. “We have nothing left to lose and those are the hardest teams to play against. I hope we can be one of those teams because really, we’re playing for our lives now.”