The Revelstoke Grizzlies started their season with a roar, thumping the Kamloops Storm 9-3 in their first exhibition game of the 2015-16 season on Sunday, but coach Ryan Parent isn’t reading too much into the result.
“Nobody won the Stanley Cup in the exhibition season,” he said following the game. “I wanted to see players aren’t afraid to make plays, but still play within our structure. I wanted to know guys could think and play with some jam.”
Sunday’s match was the team’s first after Saturday’s scheduled game against North Okanagan was canceled with both teams saying they didn’t have enough players to ice teams due to players attending Junior A camps.
It was the first real action for the Grizzlies after a week of practices and scrimmages. Parent said most players came to training camp ready.
“Today we skated very well. We had the wind tonight to play a full 60,” he said, adding, “It’s going to get tougher.”
Revelstoke took to the ice against Kamloops in a matinee game, with a lineup featuring a mix of rookies and veterans from last year’s squad that narrowly missed the playoffs.
In the lineup from last year’s team were defencemen Kyle Baron, Zack Fulton and Levi Morin; and forwards Louie Federico and Ryan Hozjan.
The newcomers were led by Wyatt Gottschalk, who scored three goals and picked up an assist, while also laying some hits and killing penalties. He was one of the few players singled out for praise by Parent after the game.
Also producing for Revelstoke were Max Mona, who scored twice, and Ryan Pereverzoff and Jordan Rae, who both picked up a goal and two assists.
Revelstoke also got goals from Kyle Keeder and Kaden Black, the grandson of former Grizzlies manager Larry Black, who passed away earlier this year.
Revelstoke’s Keyon Bittner split duties in net with Logan Sanka.
Ullar Wiatza, who played 10 games as an affiliate with the Grizzlies last year, is the other local rookie aiming for a spot on this year’s roster. “We want to give him every opportunity to be here,” said Parent.
Other returnees from last year’s team at training camp include Brady Mende, Josh Pilon and Ethan Waitzner; they were scheduled to play on Monday against the North Okanagan Knights in Vernon, said Parent.
There were 24 players in training camp on Sunday, with others still trying out for Junior A teams. “Obviously I can’t keep all of them. We’ve got some tough decisions to make,” said Parent.
For the rookies trying to make the team, Parent said he wanted to see players that competed and weren’t afraid. “I want to see they can comprehend and play the game,” he added.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies play three more exhibition games this week. On Wednesday they play the Storm in Kamloops. This weekend, they face the Golden Rockets twice — on Friday in Golden and on Saturday at home at the Forum. The Grizzlies open the regular season on Sept. 11 in Sicamous.