The Revelstoke Grizzlies will be taking on the Sicamous Eagles in the first round of the playoffs after clinching first place with a pair of wins in the final weekend of the regular season.
Revelstoke entered the weekend needing two wins to clinch top spot in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference and they completed the task, defeating the North Okanagan Knights 4-3 on Friday and the Eagles 5-2 on Saturday. The team closed out the season with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
“We’re really excited to get first place,” said captain Reid Blinkhorn. “That was a big feat for us with such a young team.”
The weekend started with with the Grizzlies taking on the Knights at home in front of more than 600 fans.
Revelstoke jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals from Kyle Schwartz and Braeden Monk before the period was even three minutes old.
The Knights’ Eric Chore scored a power play goal with under three minutes left in the period to make it 2-1 after one but Revelstoke extended its lead to 4-1 in the second period. First, TJ Christensen scored on a scramble in front and then Spraggs scored on a beautiful end-to-end rush midway through the frame.
The Knights battled back to make it 4-3 but Revelstoke held on, partly in thanks to goaltender Conrad McMillan’s 14 saves in the third period, and 36 in the game.
On Saturday night the Grizzlies travelled west down the Trans-Canada to take on the Sicamous Eagles. Marc Letourneau, Austin Donaldson and Michael Roberts led the way, with each picking up one goal and two assists in a 5-2 Revelstoke win that clinched first place.
“We wanted to wrap it up last night,” said coach Randy Quakenbush on Sunday. “We didn’t want to be coming into the last game of the season and have our backs against the wall.”
The win meant that Sunday’s rematch against the Eagles was largely meaningless. Still, the Eagles showed they won’t be pushovers in the first, taking the game 6-5 in double-overtime.
“They’re an intense team and they battle hard and we know it’s going to be a tough battle,” said Quakenbush. “The message will be to do what we do best and that is outwork our opponents and play with intensity.”
Reid Blinkhorn, a four-year veteran of the Grizzlies who is in his final year of junior hockey, said he is hoping to follow in his brother Lucas’ footsteps. Lucas was the captain of the Grizzlies team that won the Keystone Cup two years ago.
“This team is definitely up there,” Reid said. “We have a lot of skill. We just have to put ourselves to work and go hard.”
The best-of-seven playoff series against the Eagles begins in Revelstoke on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The teams play again in Revelstoke on Saturday night before the series moves to Sicamous for games three and four on Monday and Tuesday. The schedule for any other games has not been released.