The Revelstoke Grizzlies are winless two weeks into the regular season, but coach Darren Naylor likes the improvements the team has made over the course of it’s first for games.
“We’re getting closer. Going from game one to game four there’s big improvements,” said Naylor following last weekend’s games. “We’re close. I made a couple more moves and as long as the players come in, that first win is around the corner.”
Revelstoke played twice last week, losing to the Kelowna Chiefs 6-2 at home on Friday, and falling 5-3 to the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong on Saturday.
Friday’s game was a close affair through the first two periods, with Revelstoke outshooting their opponents 30-21 through two. Still, Kelowna took an early lead, with goals from Kevin Roth and Chase Astorino in the first period. Revelstoke had a chance to score with an extended 5-on-3 late in the period, but they were unable to muster any chances.
The Grizzlies responded with goals from Brodie Buhler and Tre Mason on a nice individual effort in the second period to tie up the game.
In the third period, things went haywire. While the play remained even, Kelowna pounced on every Revelstoke mistake. Dylan Jamieson scored twice in 90 seconds to make the score 4-2, and then Taylor McDowell and Ryan Baim cemented the win for the Chiefs with two goals in 13 seconds with just over five minutes to go in the game.
Naylor said a few key mistakes were the difference in game. “I thought we looked probably like we might have been a bit of the better team that game,” he said.
On Saturday, Revelstoke was in Armstrong to take on the North Okanagan Knights.
The Knights jumped out to an early lead, with goals from Dennon Leibel and Logan Mostat 70 seconds apart. Kyler Wilkinson scored for the Grizzlies with 55 seconds left in the first period to make the score 2-1 after one.
The Knights built on their lead in the second, getting goals from Bretty Hawrys and Mat Lambert to make it 4-1. Devon Hascarl lead the Grizzlies back into the game with a pair of goals later in the period, both assisted by Wilkinson.
The third period was a scoreless affair until Tanner Burns scored an empty net goal with 10 seconds left for a 5-3 North Okanagan win.
“Saturday was probably the best hockey game we played all year, a full 60-minutes,” said Naylor. “It was just a great game, it could have gone either way.”
Naylor said he would be focusing on the power play this week. The Grizzlies went 1 for 19 on the power play over the weekend and gave up a short handed goal on Friday against Kelowna. On Friday, the power play generated featured good puck possession, but failed to generate many shots.
“Five on five we’re competing with every team,” he said. “We just have to get that power play going.”
He said he had made some more moves, but did not reveal the names involved because the players had not been notified as of press time. He said the team was a “work in progress” due to the late recruitment point.
“We’re putting pieces in place,” he said. “Things that are usually done in the off season, we’re doing them in September.”
This weekend the Grizzlies play a home-and-home against the Sicamous Eagles, with Friday’s game in Sicamous and Saturday’s in Revelstoke.
“They’re going to be a hard working team,” said Naylor. “If we get on track and win our inter-division games then we’re going to be OK.”