The Revelstoke Grizzlies ended 2015 on a high note, winning back-to-back games over the Golden Rockets before New Years, only to start 2016 with a loss to the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
“What I liked about the Golden series was our collective team effort. Where one guy’s not going, other guys are going. I felt everybody’s contributed in both those games,” said coach Ryan Parent. “We matched 100 Mile’s play on the road, but we didn’t get that result. I didn’t think we played poorly. I thought we needed a little more pressure at the net in order to have that success.”
For the first time in years, the Grizzlies were back in action before New Years, with a home-and-home series against the Rockets on Dec. 30 and 31.
On Wednesday, the teams were in Golden, where a three point night by Brady Mende helped spark the Grizzlies to a 4-1 win.
Mende opened the scoring just over six minutes into the second period. Wyatt Gottschalk put Revelstoke up 2-0 with a goal late in the frame.
Golden got on the board near the mid-point of the third period when Ryder Prue got the puck past Grizzlies goaltender Trevor Dilauro. The Grizzlies two-goal lead was restored when Kyle Berry scored a power play goal with five minutes left in the game. Ryan Hozjan made it 4-1 two minutes later to seal the win.
Berry and Hozjan both added assists on the night, while Steven Fiust also had a two-point game. Dilauro made 28 saves for the win.
On Thursday, Golden was in Revelstoke in front of a packed house at the Forum for the New Years Eve Showdown. The game was refereed by Cydnie Rice, a female official who has been making a name for herself in BC Hockey ranks.
Revelstoke pounced first when Jackson Caller fired home a point shot on the power play six minutes into the first. The lead was short live, with Kyle Rosolowski scoring for Golden just over a minute later.
Revelstoke regained the lead when Berry tapped in his own rebound midway through the second. Jeff Bochon made it 3-1 Grizzlies early in the first. He then sealed the victory with a buzzer-beater into the empty net.
Mende continued his strong play with a pair of assists in the game, while defenceman Kyle Baron also had two helpers.
Revelstoke native Keyon Bittner made 47 saves in Golden’s net, but it wasn’t enough to pick up the win in front of his hometown. Aidan Doak stopped 25 Golden shots to pick up the win.
Parent said he wants to make the New Year Eve Showdown an annual event. “I thought the atmosphere was great and the support there was great. It was a good show,” he said.
Mende was the team’s offensive leader in the two wins, picking up five points. He now leads the team in scoring with 26 points. “He’s elevated his game for sure,” said Parent. “He’s also playing with good players who help him to be better.”
On Saturday, the Grizzlies made the six-hour trip to 100 Mile House for the last time this season. Revelstoke is one of the few teams to beat the Wranglers at home this season, but this time, they fell short.
Brady Ward, Cole Zimmerman and Ryan Friesen scored for the Wranglers, while Aaron Aragon scored for the Grizzlies in his first game back after missing almost a month due to injury.
With Aragon back, the team is mostly healthy for the first time this season, with only Ryan Pereverzoff missing due to a lower body injury. Parent expects him back in the next week.
The Grizzlies begin a stretch of 10 of 11 games at home this Friday, Jan. 8, when they host the North Okanagan Knights. On Saturday, Jan. 9, the Chase Heat are in town. Revelstoke sits 10 points behind Chase in the Doug Birks Division, with one game in hand. On Tuesday, Revelstoke hosts the division-leading Kamloops Storm.
Parent said he’s looking forward to the lengthy home stand, and the lack of long road trips. Revelstoke’s only road game the rest of the month is in Sicamous. “We came out before the break at .500 hockey. Now it’s time to raise the bar a little bit and play better than .500,” he said. “We’ve been very good at home.”