Revelstoke Grizzlies falter in KIJHL season opener

Revelstoke Grizzlies look for redemption this weekend after losing season opener 3-2 to Sicamous Eagles.

Levi Morin battles with a Sicamous Eagles player in Friday's season opener.

Levi Morin battles with a Sicamous Eagles player in Friday's season opener.

A strong opponent, stellar goaltending, lack of finish, a few mental mistakes and perhaps a little over-confidence all contributed to the Revelstoke Grizzlies opening night loss to the Sicamous Eagles on Friday, says coach Ryan Parent.

Revelstoke fell 3-2 to the Eagles in Sicamous to open the KIJHL season on Friday, Sept. 11. It was the team’s only game of the league’s opening weekend.

“We ran into some pretty good goaltending and I think we did not execute around the net,” said coach Ryan Parent. “You have to be hungrier and pay the price, and we didn’t do that.”

Danny O’Donnell opened the scoring, putting Sicamous up 1-0 two minutes into the game. Kaden Black evened the score for the Grizzlies¬† with 97 seconds left in the period but Nathan Plessis restored Sicamous’ lead a minute later.

In the second, Tyler Collens increase Sicamous’ lead to 3-1. Josh Pilon made it 3-2 with a power play goal near the mid-way point of the third, but Revelstoke was unable to capitalize on any more of its 19 third period shots, skating to a 3-2 loss.

Keyon Bittner made 36 saves in nets for the Grizzlies.

“We played a fairly steady game,” said Parent. “A couple of mental errors cost us that game.”

The loss followed a pre-season in which the Grizzlies went undefeated, winning four games easily and tying another. When asked if the team might have been over-confident going into the season opener, Parent said it was a possibility, but he also praised the team’s leadership.

“We have a good, solid leadership core. They know what it takes to win in that league,” he said. “We’re going to have to be more mentally focused and ready.”

Parent credited Black for another strong game, while also mentioning the play of rookie defenseman Michael Lenoury and Californian import Aaron Eragon.

Parent’s main theme in the post-game interview was the team’s inability to put the puck in the net, despite directing 47 shots on the Sicamous net.

“We have to be more hungry around the net and execute if we’re going to do more damage,” he said.

Parent said the game presented a reality check for the team. While there are many returnees, about half the team is new to the KIJHL.

“To get your two points every night, you have to work at it,” he said. “You can’t take shifts off or have mental lapses because they cost you.”

Parent said they will work on execution around the goal, as well as defensive zone breakouts this week.

The Revelstoke Grizzlies play twice next weekend. On Friday, they’re in Kamloops to play the Storm and on Saturday they head to Invermere to play the Columbia Valley Rockies.

Parent said he expects a tough game against Kamloops, who are regularly one of the league’s top teams.

“We have to give ourselves a chance to win in Kamloops by working extremely hard,” he said. “They’re well coached. You have to respect that opponent every time you play them. That goes for every team in our division.”