The Revelstoke Grizzlies are home for the holidays with a split of their road trip to 100 Mile House in the rear view mirror.
The Grizzlies found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-3 loss on Friday, before returning the favour and stomping the Wranglers 6-2 on Saturday.
They played both games with a short bench due to injuries and illnesses.
On Friday, a late-game surge saw 100 Mile emerge with a 6-3 win. Brady Ward scored the lone goal of the first period to give the Wranglers a 1-0 lead after one. Steven Fiust tied the game with a power play goal early in the second, but the Wranglers would add two more late in the frame to take a 3-1 lead after two.
Fiust responded for the Grizzlies less than a minute into the third, and Kyle Baron scored six minutes later to tie the game up.
However, a pair of goals by Justin Bond less than a minute apart that let the Wranglers skate away to a win. They would add an empty netter with one second left to make the final score 6-3.
“Our play away from the puck suffered on Friday a little bit,” said coach Ryan Parent. “There was a lot of puck watching and not being aware of situations and not picking up guys in the defensive zone.”
On Saturday, the Grizzlies turned the tables on the Wranglers, despite only having 15 skaters in the lineup. Once again, 100 Mile got the only goal of the first period. Fiust, shorthanded, and Ullar Wiatza, on the powerplay, put Revelstoke ahead in the second, only for Bond to tie the game before the period was over.
That set the stage for a four goal explosion by the Grizzlies in the third. Ryan Pereverzoff started things off with a power play goal 2:32 into the frame. Kyle Berry added to the lead with 6:44 left in the period, while Brady Mende scored a short handed goal 36 seconds later to make it 5-2. He completed the scoring two minutes later to make it a 6-2 final.
“We played more abrasive in game two. More picking up checks, solid in the defensive zone,” said Parent. “Offensively we were a little bit more determined. The way we played offense in the second game is what we’re capable of game in game out.”
Captain Kenny Batke had three assists on Saturday, while Fiust added two assists for a total of three goals and two assists on the weekend. Parent was happy to see Fiust, last year’s leading scorer, come alive offensively.
“Game in, game out, he’s one of your best guys at getting pucks out of your own end, playing the right way in the D-zone, but it just wasn’t happening for him offensively,” said Parent. “It’s nice to see he’s able to consistently get on the board.”
Aidan Doak was in net for both games.
With 31 games played, the Grizzlies remain in fourth place in the Doug Birks division, 13 points up on the Sicamous Eagles in the race for the final playoff spot. Revelstoke also has three games in hand. The team is nine points back of the Chase Heat, who are in third place.
The Grizzlies return to the ice after Christmas to get ready for a pair of games against the Golden Rockets that will close out 2015.
On Wednesday, Dec. 30, they’ll make the drive over Rogers Pass, while the next day, the two teams will face off in the New Year’s Eve Showdown at the Forum.
On Saturday, January 2, the Grizzlies head to 100 Mile House to once again face the Wranglers. It’s one of two January road games for the team, out of 11 total.
“What I’m excited about is if we work hard, you’re going to see some of our best hockey in the second half,” said Parent. “That’s how we were last year. Our team puts in the work. It is a little bit of an accolade to the program we developed.
“I think our best hockey has yet to be played.”