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Decisions, decisions: Goalie trio making life tough for Grizzlies coach

MARIO ANNICCHIARICO / TIMES COLONIST
AUGUST 29, 2017 10:17 PM

Any hockey fan will tell you, three is company when it comes down to the goaltending position.
Victoria Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon will have to whittle that scenario down to two as the B.C. Hockey League club nears its complete roster in time for the season opener, Sept. 8 in Powell River.

Zack Rose, a recruit out of Lake Forest Academy in Illinois — which has produced former Grizzlies in Cody Van Lierop, Jake Stevens and goalie Sean Cleary — is said to have the inside track on the No. 1 spot. Jonah Capriotti of Salisbury Prep School and local product Shawn Parkinson are entrenched in the three-way battle to protect the net.

Current Grizzlies defenceman Dayne Finnson and recent grad Brett Stirling were both recruited out of Salisbury in Connecticut, so Didmon continues to go to the well for recruits.

The goaltending choices will obviously be critical after the Grizzlies rode NCAA-bound Matthew Galajda through a strong 2016-17 campaign.

“The way I see it is the starting position is open and that’s what I’m here for, to try and take it over,” said Rose, of Paradise, NL. “I’m competing with two other good goalies, trying to take the spot. We’re great friends off the ice, but as soon as we get on, it’s all business.”

It’s obviously a step up for Rose, venturing northwest out of Lake Forest Academy near Chicago. So far he’s played a half a game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals, keeping a clean sheet in a 3-1 win. He’ll have more work this week as the Grizzlies head to Nanaimo tonight to take on the Clippers. They also visit Port Alberni on Friday and are back home on Saturday against Nanaimo and Sunday afternoon against the Bulldogs in Sooke.

“Obviously, there’s always a bit of pressure because it is a jump up,” said Rose, who recorded goals-against averages of 1.84, 2.08 and 1.78, respectively, the three years in Chicago with consistent save percentages of .911, .914 and .910. “When you get to the next level, there is always a bit of pressure, but personally I don’t feel it. You just have to relax and play your game and do what you’re here to do.

“Sure, it’s faster and stronger. Shots are definitely harder. It’s a jump, like I said, but I’m ready to make it. I think I can be that No. 1 guy.”

Capriotti, like Rose and Parkinson, is also 18 and recognizes the leap in playing level.

“It’s a big step coming to the BCHL. Looking at the talent around, it’s a lot different from playing Prep and even junior back in Ontario,” offered the Hamilton native. “It’s a lot more skilled and physical, but that challenge is what you look forward to every day.

“You want to get better every day and having these guys here, in Parkinson and Rose, they push you to do better. Having good talent is great to have around because you always want to challenge yourself to get better. The exposure and coaching has been great so far. I’ve loved it here.”

Capriotti is slated to play the entire preseason game tonight in Nanaimo with Parkinson as backup.

Capriotti’s introduction to the league was a quick one, facing a breakaway for his first shot against Cowichan Valley. It was the only goal he let in.

“That gets you on your toes right away,” he added.

Parkinson is also coming off a 42-save performance in a 6-2 exhibition win over Powell River. The six-foot-four, 190-pounder is well known to Grizzlies fans, having affiliated with the club last season while playing with the Westshore Wolves.

“I don’t think it gives me either, or,” he said of any advantage or disadvantage to being the lone local. “I’m just letting my skill prove itself.

“I’m confident I can be the No. 1, that’s how I feel right now. I’m comfortable and I feel like I deserve a spot. It will be coach Didmon’s decision.”

A tough one at that, admitted the bench boss.

“Right now I feel like all three of them can compete at this level. It’s just a matter of which two we’re going to take,” said Didmon, whose club is 2-1 so far the preseason.

“Obviously, Rose has been solid from the start. We came in with the assumption that he was going to have the No. 1 spot and he has held onto that well.

“I’ve been impressed with Shawn. He has shown to have improved his game sense a little bit and he has caught up to the speed of junior A.

“Capriotti is real quick and he’s stopping pucks. I don’t know him as well but he has shown me that he he’s a quality goaltender, so these are the good problems to have.”

 

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