If the Revelstoke Grizzlies want to win some hockey games this year, they’re going to have to figure out how to stay out of the penalty box.
They also need to figure out how to score some goals.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies opened their regular season with a pair of losses at home last weekend, falling 4-1 to the Kamloops Storm on Friday and 6-1 to the Summerland Steam on Saturday.
Only 221 people came out to the home opener on Friday to watch the Grizzlies fall to the Storm. Revelstoke fell behind early, giving up three goals in the first period.
Kamloops struck first when Bobby Kashuba scored on a short-handed breakaway near the end of a sloppy Revelstoke powerplay at 15:14 of the first.
Rourke O’Briain made it 2-0 only 26 second later after deflecting a wrist-shot from the point past Revelstoke goalie Aaron Brandoli.
Kashuba struck again at 4:18 of the period when he forced a turnover and scored another breakaway goal.
Revelstoke’s only had a few scoring chances – once when Eric Austin was sent in alone and later when Riley Creighton was stopped on a partial break.
The Grizzlies got on the board four minutes into the second period when Damin Devlin tipped in a Wade Cline point shot for a power play goal.
That was the most offense Revelstoke could produce as Brandoli kept his teammates in the game, coming up big on several occasions.
Revelstoke had two good chances in the first half of the third, first when Devon Hascarl was stopped on a two-on-one, and later when Hascarl and Chad Thomas produced a shorthanded chance that they just couldn’t get past Kamloops goalie Ben Giesbrecht.
Kashuba completed his hat trick at 10:19 of the period, scoring on a beautiful move right in front of the Grizzlies net.
Brandoli kept the game close, stopping Brett Watkinson on a penalty shot and making several other big saves, but Revelstoke was unable to produce any more offense, for a 4-1 final.
“Brandoli played amazing that night,” said coach Darren Naylor. “He stood on his head or the score could have a been a lot worse.”
On Saturday, Revelstoke hosted Summerland at the Forum. The teams traded goals in the first period, with Kendell Wilson scoring for Summerland and Kenny Batke notching his first of the season for Revelstoke.
The rest of the game saw Summerland score five unanswered goals for a 5-1 win. Reid Brown, Alex Fraser, Aaron Durant, Josh DaCosta and Cooper Holick all scored as the Steam outshot the Grizzlies 40-28.
After the weekend, Naylor spoke about the team’s play. He said his late start with the team has hurt recruitment, making it hard to bring in offensive players.
“What we’ve done we’ve had to put guys in roles they’ve never been in before,” he said. “I’m putting guys on the power play that have never played there before.”
He did acquire two players from the Columbia Valley Rockies – Briar McNaney and Spencer Barlow – that he said should help the offence. The former is a skilled 20-year-old while the latter was a top scorer with the Calgary North Stars hockey programs. He is also looking to deal TJ Christensen for some more offense.
“I think if we get all that done, it should give me four to five offensive guys,” said Naylor.
The other issue he spoke about was the number of penalties the team took. In both games, the Grizzlies sent a steady stream of players to the penalty box.
“The penalties we have been taking aren’t even the kind that are aggressive,” said Naylor. “They’re just stupid tripping and slashing. It’s driving me insane.
“I think as we improve our depth and we become more competitive it will become less of an issue.”
On the positive side, Naylor praised the play of Brandoli and said he will be starting the bulk of the games in net moving forward. He also singled out Devon Hascarl and said the team’s penalty killing was strong.
This weekend the Grizzlies host the Kelowna Chiefs on Friday, before facing the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong on Saturday.
“We’ve got to work on everything,” said Naylor. “I like our defensive zone coverage – it’s pretty good, but we have to do more offensively.”