It was a team that looked defeated. The way they skated to the face off circle, they way they sat on the bench. They were the signs of a team that has lost its morale.
Unable to score and unable to keep the puck out of the net, the Revelstoke Grizzlies lost three straight games last weekend, falling 5-2 to the Kamloops Storm on Friday, 6-0 to the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday and, worst of all, 10-2 to the Chase Heat at home on Sunday.
This was after their coach Darren Naylor resigned on Friday, citing family reasons for his reason to quit mid-season.
Now the team finds itself eight points behind Sicamous for a playoff spot with 25 games left to play. As of press time, there was no word on who would be coaching the team going forward.
The week was a tumultuous one, with Naylor leaving following a practice on Thursday. On Friday, he told the Times Review he had resigned before he told owner Lewis Hendrickson the news.
“Basically my number one thing is my family,” he said. “I’ve been traveling back and forth between there and the coast and it’s weighing on me.”
He alluded to other reasons, without going into them.
Naylor was hired as the Grizzlies coach at the start of the season. He inherited a team that had done no recruiting and attempted to assemble a competitive roster as players came and went from the team. There were times when the team showed signs of life, but in most games, a combination of lack of scoring depth, defensive errors and costly penalties hurt the team.
“I wish the circumstances weren’t what it was but there was some player issues and probably at the end of the day what’s best for everybody is him going back to look after his family,” said Hendrickson in response to the resignation.
Naylor’s departure appeared to buoy the spirits of the team. “Something had to lift the spirits here, something had to change,” said captain Devon Hascarl on Friday. “It’s never easy bringing somebody new in, re-learning everything, but then again, the guys are excited for a change.”
On the ice though, the team didn’t fair any better. On Friday, in Kamloops, Revelstoke was outshot 68-17 en route to a 5-2 loss. Matt MacDonald and Hascarl scored for the Grizzlies, and Aaron Brandoli made 63 saves, but the Storm scored four power play goals for the win.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies were in Sicamous to face the Eagles. Once again they were outshot badly, this time 52-28, and lost 6-0.
On Sunday, the Grizzlies finished the weekend with a 10-2 loss to the Chase Heat in front of a small crowd at the Revelstoke Forum. Kyler Wilkinson and Jeremy McGregor scored for the Grizzlies in the loss.
Afterwards, interim coach Sheldon Nohr said the team needed to calm down, and start having fun.
“They’ve had a lot of things happen to them with the team dynamics. Lots has changed and it’s really tough,” he said. “Right now they don’t know anything. They’re frustrated, they know they’re behind other teams. Right now, they don’t what to look forward to.”
He had scheduled a Monday morning practice, and he said his main aim was to make it fun.
“It’s hard to boost their morale. It’s really tough situation their in,” he said. “All we can do is stay positive and make the game as fun as possible”
There was no word on who would be assuming full-time coaching duties as of press time. Hendrickson said there would be someone in place by the end of the week.
The Grizzlies play three road games this weekend – Friday against Sicamous and then back-to-back games against the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
Despite the team’s woes, Hascarl sounded hopeful the team could rebound and still make the playoffs, they just need a coach to put them in the right direction.
“We’re running out of time here but it’s not impossible,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of guys in there that are willing to do it and put in the extra hours to figure it out. We’re here to work hard, we do work hard. It’s just a lack guidance. If our team wants to do it, we will do it.”