Darren Naylor came into the picture late, but so far he said he’s happy with the way the Revelstoke Grizzlies are shaping up heading into the KIJHL season.
“It’s going to be a hard working team,” he told the Times Review following a pair of exhibition games in Golden last weekend. “I think the fans are going to appreciate what’s going on the ice, the work ethic and players giving it their all. We’re going to get better every game.”
Revelstoke was in action twice in Golden. On Saturday, they defeated the Glacier Nationals from Montana 6-2 and on Sunday they lost to the Golden Rockets 4-2, despite badly outshooting their opponents.
“What we saw today – we were all over that team. The shots in the first period were 13-0 but we couldn’t score,” he said. “That could be a running thing.”
That’s where being hired at the last minute could hurt most. Naylor said most of the skilled players have already been snapped up, so finding goal-scorers hasn’t been easy. He said the team will use a strong puck-pursuit system to pressure other teams.
“I like to outnumber guys all over the place,” he said.
The Grizzlies begin their regular season this Friday at the Forum against the Kamloops Storm. On Saturday, they host the Summerland Steam. The team also hosts the Sicamous Eagles in an exhibition game on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Naylor has been busy the past week, managing the Grizzlies training camp and wheeling and dealing to shape his roster. He’s made two significant trades. The first move was dealing forward Brayden Beckley to the Columbia Valley Rockies for defenseman Brydon Beston and two players to be named later.
The other trade sent last year’s captain Darnel St. Pierre to the Nelson Leafs for two big defensemen Kyler Wilkinson and Damin Devlin.
Naylor said St. Pierre asked for a trade and he’s very happy with the return. “When you have somebody that doesn’t want to be here, what do you do?”
He said he’s in a similar situation with TJ Christensen, who has asked for a trade to Sicamous so he can play his final junior season closer to home. “Ideally I want TJ to come back and play for us,” he said. “I don’t want to move him, especially to Sicamous in my own division, but if I have to I’ll make the right deal.”
There are a few players returning from last year. Kent and Cody Hendrickson are back, though Cody will miss the first few months of the season with a broken ankle. Locals Brodie Buhler, Riley Creighton and Aiden Silzer-Hooker are returning, and they will be joined by another local boy, Eric Austin.
Aaron Brandoli is returning in nets and Devon Hascarl, who has played for the Grizzlies between stints in Junior A the past few years, will be one of the team’s 20-year-olds.
The rest of the roster will be filled with recruits, acquisitions from around the league and players who have failed to make Junior A. When I spoke to Naylor he had just finished making a round of cuts.
“My phone is going off the hook now the last couple of days with Junior A guys falling down the pipe,” he said.