The Revelstoke Grizzlies entered the second half of the regular season on Saturday with a 4-3 victory over the Osoyoos Coyotes.
The win over last season’s league champions gave the Grizzlies a 20-6-0-1 record so far this season – good for second in the Doug Birks division and fourth in the KIJHL. The Kamloops Storm lead in the both regards, eight points ahead of Revelstoke but with three more games played.
“I think we’ve achieved something very successful in that we’re playing to our potential,” said coach Randy Quakenbush. “That’s a real commendable credit to the players and the whole program.”
The team closed out the first half last week with a 5-2 loss to the North Okanagan Knights on Wednesday and a 11-1 thumping of the Columbia Valley Rockies on Friday.
Wednesday’s game saw Revelstoke jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first half before giving up five straight goals to the Knights, who are only four points shy of the Grizzlies in the standings.
Friday night saw Revelstoke down Columbia Valley 11-1 in an easy win. Revelstoke was missing three regular forwards while Columbia Valley played with only 13 skaters. Kyle Schwartz scored five goals for Revelstoke in the win.
On Saturday, Darnel St. Pierre scored what turned out to be the game winning goal as Revelstoke defeated Osoyoos, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Quakenbush said it was the team’s best game of the year.
Entering the second half, he said the key is for the players to maintain their work ethic. “Really it is our desire to be our best.”
The team will receive a further boost when Riley Spraggs, a veteran of the Grizzlies’ 2010 Keystone Cup winning squad, joins the team. “He just bolsters our room offensively and shows we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the best players to win a championship,” said Quakenbush.
This weekend the Grizzlies head on the road for games against Penticton and Princeton.
With the first half of the season done, the Revelstoke Times Review decided to hand out its mid-season player awards. They are, as follows:
Best forward: Jordan Bledsoe
After taking a year off from hockey, Jordan Bledsoe got off to a slow start but has turned it around. The 20-year-old leads the team with 38 points in 25 games and kills penalties. “He makes his linemates better, which is something that everybody values in a teammate,” said coach Randy Quakenbush.
Best defenseman: Lucas Hildebrand
Standing 6’4” and 210 pounds, the veteran Lucas Hildebrand is an imposing presence all over the ice. His booming shot is a threat on the power play, helping him record 24 points so far this season. “He’s a man amongst boys,” said Quakenbush. “When he decides to take the puck to the net, there’s no one who can stop him.”
Best rookie: Darnel St. Pierre
Darnel St. Pierre got attention by earning nine points in his first six games. Since then, teams have been noticing his physical play, said Quakenbush. “To be a young defenceman and jump into a top-four role on a team like ours is a tremendous credit to his ability.”
Most improved player: Braden Monk
Braden Monk has gone from being a defensive specialist to the team’s second leading scorer this year, while still playing against other teams’ top lines. “He plays minutes against the other teams’ top players and him and his line still manage to put the puck in the net,” said Quakenbush.