The Revelstoke Grizzlies made their highly anticipated return to the Forum last Saturday night to play in front of a dedicated local home crowd, more than 18 months since the KIJHL was shut down due to COVID-19.
Despite the crowd not being quite as loud as during ski season or at full capacity, 300 fans came out with great energy to support their team. The Grizzlies didn’t disappoint them skating hard for three periods to earn a tough 3-1 victory against the Sicamous Eagles.
Sicamous came to play right from the drop, determined not to let the emotion of the night for the home squad get in the way earning a road game victory.
It looked like their size advantage might benefit them but the Grizzlies skill and speed worked to home team’s advantage as the game progressed. The first period was even for a while with no goals and solid back and forth play by both teams. At 7:07 there were two big hits resulting in a Sicamous penalty for interference, but the visitors killed it off with excellent defence resulting in only two shots on the power play for Revelstoke.
At this point in the contest, it appeared the Grizzlies were going to have take it up a notch if they were going to come out with a win.
Then at 12:58 of the opening period, the Grizzlies’ Ryan Howe was penalized for hooking, giving the screaming Eagles a power play opportunity to get on the scoreboard.
The visiting squad had a good chance on a give and go feed to the left side of the net but lucky for the Revelstoke goalie the Sicamous player fanned on the shot.
With about five minutes left in the first period, the Grizzlies’ Bennett Kuhnlein made a terrific rush with only one defenceman to beat and got off a solid shot plus had a chance at getting his own rebound.
A minute later, Revelstoke’s Owen Chamberland created another good rush off the right side of the net, trying to flip the puck back to his rushing teammate, but the Sicamous defenceman made a perfect block to prevent the scoring chance.
With under three minutes left in the opening period, an Eagles penalty for charging gave the Grizzlies a great chance to score before the Zamboni came out, but once again the home team was denied their first goal of the evening.
With just under a minute left, Revelstoke’s Luke Aston was given a game misconduct for checking from behind, which seemed like a borderline call since there was no injury to the Sicamous player.
There were eight penalties in the second period but no power play goals till shortly before intermission.
One of these infractions was a result of the Grizzlies’ Brandon Gallo skating in fast to lay a terrific hit on a Sicamous player, but he just missed slamming the visitor into the boards by mere inches.
The Eagles player was not pleased and he retaliated, getting a penalty.
During the power play, a Sicamous player got a short-handed breakaway but couldn’t get off a good shot, just dribbling the puck into goaltender Brandon Weare, who was outstanding all night.
With about 11 minutes left, Brandon Gallo got the big hit he was looking for, cleanly laying out a Sicamous player who had his head down.
This got the crowd going which was perfect timing to coincide with an Eagles penalty for slashing, but again no goals were scored.
The Grizzlies’ power plays included some great passes and a few decent scoring chances, but the home squad kept coming up empty on the scoresheet.
Revelstoke had the shot advantage halfway through the game at 25-13, dominating the offensive opportunities but unable to notch that first goal.
At this point in the contest, it looked like one goal by either team would prove to be a game winner.
Gallo came up with his third crushing hit of the evening standing up a Sicamous rush right at the blue line preventing the visiting player from entering the zone.
Both players went down to the ice, with Gallo taking the worst of the collision, but he quickly rebounded, showing how tough his is for what looked like the smallest player on the ice.
Finally at 18:42 of the second period, Revelstoke got the break they needed scoring on a shot from the point tipped in by Stavros Koutsantonis.
Sicamous was not going down easy though, as they came out for the third period determined to tie the score. Just 39 seconds into the final period, the Eagles caught Revelstoke off guard.
A few back and forth passes moving the goalie side to side in front of the net led to the Eagles’ Butler eventually poking the puck in to even the score.
There was no more goals until 6:45 on a power play when the Grizzlies’ Brady Augot found a dribbling puck come his way at the left side of the net. He snapped a gorgeous shot to upper right corner for a perfect goal.
This got the crowd on their feet.
Soon after, the Grizzlies created another good scoring opportunity on the left side of the net, missing tapping in the puck by inches. At this point, Revelstoke was being very aggressive in their play to get one more puck in the net to secure the win.
Finally at 18:25, Ethan Mattern locked in the victory with an open net goal sending the Forum into a frenzy celebrating the win.
Despite so many new players on the Grizzlies, it appears like we have an exciting fast paced team to follow this hockey season.