Revelstoke Grizzlies end 2016 on high note

Revelstoke Grizzlies pick up wins over Sicamous Eagles and Kelowna Chiefs to end 2016.

Goaltende Giovanni Sambrielaz sprawls to make one of his 24 saves Saturday night.

The Revelstoke Grizzlies ended 2016 on a high note, picking up only their second four-point weekend of the season with wins over the Sicamous Eagles and the Kelowna Chiefs.

The Grizzlies returned to action after a two week Christmas break on Friday when they faced the Eagles in Sicamous.

Mitchell Lavoie put Revelstoke on the board 3:20 into the first period. Matthew Urbanski tied the game for Sicamous in the second. Jon Vandermolen scored the game winner for the Grizzlies with a power play goal at 12:25 of the third period. Matthew Monk and Ullar Wiatzka picked up assists on the play. Giovanni Sambrielaz made 27 saves in the 2-1 win.

Photo: From left: Ruby Long and Sara Agland with mascot Jess Boughton.

On Saturday, the Grizzlies played host to the Kelowna Chiefs for the second annual New Year’s Eve game at the Forum. A packed house greeted the Grizzlies, who wore their beige jerseys for the occasion.

It was Kelowna who got off to the hot start, getting goals from Dakota Kittle and Brett Witala and outshooting Revelstoke 10-5 in the first period.

The Grizzlies came out fired up for the second period. They played their best period of the year, outshooting the Chiefs 16-3 and getting goals from Tyler Chavez Leech and Jordan Rae in the process.

“We built off the crowd. We realized these people are here to cheer us and we used that,” said assistant captain Tommy Bodtker.

Revelstoke continued their strong play in the third period, blowing the game open with goals from Bodtker, Rae and new acquisition Bradley Newans.

Josh Kobelka added a goal for Kelowna to make it a 5-3 final.

Sambrielaz started his second game in a row and made 24 saves for another win.

“We had a bit of a slow start and we’re addressing that as a team, but I think we played good defensive hockey and we made simple and easy plays through the second and third and it got us the win,” said coach Ryan Parent after the game.

Photo: Jordan Rae recorded two goals, one assist and one big hit on Saturday.

The two wins mark only the second time the Grizzlies have won twice in one weekend; the only other occasion is when they beat the last-place Eagles twice in November.

“I think we’ve been building into this all season,” said Parent. “All through the whole first half we’ve been working hard.”

The wins boost the Grizzlies’ record to 13-15-0-1. They remain in fourth place in the Doug Birks Division, 10 points back of the 100 Mile House Wranglers, with two games in hand.

The Grizzlies have a busy schedule in January, with 11 games, including nine at home. They started off the month with a matinee game against the the Wranglers on the road on Monday, Jan. 2, after press time. This weekend, they play host to the Kamloops Storm on Friday and the Chase Heat on Saturday. All three are teams the Grizzlies are chasing in the standings.

“We need to do exactly what we did today,” said Bodtker, when asked what it will take for the team to catch up to the rest of the division. “Keep working hard, believe in ourselves and trust our teammates.”

Parent said the team had a tough schedule in the first half, spending a lot of it on the road. “Now it’s time to get back into the Forum and win some hockey games.”

Photo: Hundreds of frisbees were thrown for the frisbee toss.

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