The Revelstoke Grizzlies will be back in the arena in November in a season that has been modified to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
“The players are chomping at the bit for the puck drop,” said Ryan Parent, head coach and general manager for the team.
The 2019/2020 season was cut short in March due to the pandemic. The Grizzlies were in the middle of a playoff series against the 100 Mile House Wranglers, tied with one win a piece in the Doug Birks Division finals.
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Fans will have to watch online instead of in person, however, the games will now be streamed on HockeyTV, which means the price to watch is more affordable and the quality is better, said Parent.
The first 12 games in the season will be against either the Sicamous Eagles or the Golden Rockets, as the three teams are in a cohort.
“It will be like a play-off series,” predicted Parent. “It will create some rivalries.”
After a two-week break around Christmas, the cohort will change and the team will play others.
Each team in the KIJHL is scheduled to play 30 games, whereas last year the Grizzlies played 49 regular season games. Parent said the playoff schedule hasn’t been decided yet.
Without fans in the area, the team will be getting creative with fundraising efforts, Parent said. Adding that local sponsors have continued their support so far.
The team has been registered as a not-for-profit society this year which also allows them more flexibility with fundraising, said Parent.
“We hope the province will allow spectators eventually.”
The season will also be different for high school students on the team as Parent said many will continue to study online with their hometown high schools instead of transferring to Revelstoke Secondary School.
The team is still looking for billet homes to host players, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans returning this year include Revelstoke locals Matt Cadden and Raymond Speerbrecker, as well as Jordan Kohlman, Brendan Vulcano, Cash Sawchyn and goalie Noah Desouza.
Parent said some of the new skaters from last year are returning and he is excited for the new crop of recruits.
Though he took the year off last season, Parent is back in the head coach position after Lukas Lomicky accepted a job as an assistant coach for the Prince George Spruce Kings in the BCHL.