The Revelstoke Grizzlies continue to improve the first 20 minutes of their game.
During a weekend series with the 100 Mile Wranglers, coach Ryan Parent said they achieved that mission in the second matchup of the weekend.
“Something we’ve been looking for is a good complete start to our game,” he said.
On Friday night, the Grizzlies got off to a rough start, lagging by two points less than eight minutes into the first period.
Parent doesn’t think the Grizzlies were quite ready to play.
“On the other side of that, I think that 100 Mile just outworked us,” he said. “We didn’t have an incredible start in the first frame.”
The Grizzlies would go on to drop the game 5-4, despite outshooting the Wranglers 46-26.
Wranglers coach Dale Hladun was pleased with his team’s performance Friday night.
“Winning or losing, you have to take what you can out of it,” he said. “I was really proud of the kids.”
100 Mile’s game is characterized as rough and tumble. They play hard.
“They choose to play an abrasive game and that’s on them,” said Parent.
Multiple game misconducts saw six players ejected Friday night, evenly split between Revelstoke and 100 Mile.
Saturday’s game saw a different Grizzlies team show up.
They pulled ahead in the first frame, scoring four goals, and never looked back.
“Revelstoke was stung and they’re in first place and they’re a proud team and they came back with a game plan,” said Hladun. “I was disappointed with our mental discipline. I thought when things were going tough, we made it worse for ourselves.”
The Wranglers’ goalie, Hayden Lyons was ejected with 4:10 to go in the first period after smacking Grizzlies forward Dylan McNeil in the face.
“Our goaltender, who played outstanding yesterday, he was mad he got fun yesterday and he was mad and he lost his temper,” said Hladun after the game on Saturday. “If I was coaching against us, I’d have done exactly what Ryan did. You poke the bears and poke the bears and then all of a sudden they’re taking the dumb penalties.”
Backup goalie Jakob Severson came in cold and finished out the game.
In the Revelstoke net, Liam McGarva was in net again Saturday night after coming in cold partway through Friday’s game.
Parent said McGarva earned the right to play Saturday.
“He was good and he kind of took away some hope for 100 Mile early and shut the door,” said Parent.
The Grizzlies won Saturday night 9-1.
“I don’t think you’re going to have too many lopsided scorers,” said Parent. “We want to make sure that we play that way into future games.”
As the regular season nears its close, Parent said that a number of skaters are stepping up to the plate. Among them are Josh Irvine, who had a strong start to the season. He picked up two assists Friday night and added a goal and two assists Saturday.
The Grizzlies remain first in the Okanagan/ Shuswap Conference with 55 points.
They face the Kamloops Storm Friday night, which is being celebrated as Aussie Night.
NOTES: Grizzlies Captain Tommy Bodtker was recognized Friday night for playing 100 games in the KIJHL. The Grizzlies billet parents were recognized before the Saturday game. Grizzlies forward Jordan Robertson is seventh in the KIJHL for points with 51 over 39 games.