Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
Photo Credit: Kyle Robinson Photography
FEBRUARY 10, 2017 10:27 PM
Despite three straight losses to the Powell River Kings, the Victoria Grizzlies still control their own destiny in the race for top spot in the Island Division of the B.C. Hockey League.
Sure, the race for first place is very much back on, as the Kings have closed to within two points with Wednesday’s 4-3 result, but the Grizzlies still have three games in hand on Powell River, which has just four games remaining in its regular-season schedule.
Victoria will have its chance to inch closer to the divisional crown when they host the Merritt Centennials tonight at 7 at The Q Centre, followed by a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in Colwood.
The Kings are off until the following weekend when they play host to the Nanaimo Clippers in a pair of games before closing it out a week later at Alberni Valley and Cowichan Valley on Feb. 25 and 26.
“We just talked about that,” Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon said of bouncing back with the right frame of mind after suffering the loss in Powell River. “We want to be ready for six big periods against two teams we don’t know very well.”
The Centennials are a .500 hockey club with a 20-20-8-2 record, while the Silverbacks are just 18-26-3-3. Merritt did down the Grizzlies 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 3 and Victoria doubled Salmon Arm 4-2 on the road on Oct. 29.
“Merritt did beat us in overtime and Salmon Arm is a team that has individuals playing for their future. It’s a big four points up for grabs this weekend and we want to get back on a streak. It was a tough one [losing Wednesday] after winning six in a row,” said Didmon.
“We were hoping to make it seven, but we’ll just have to re-start on that. We have seven games left and we just want to end on a strong note.”
Getting back at Powell River will have to wait for another day, should the two teams collide in the second round of the playoffs.
“We had chances to score in that third period [Wednesday], but we think we can finish the job in the playoffs,” Didmon said of the possibility of playing the Kings in the post-season. “Obviously, we have to get ourselves through that first round, but chances are we’ll see them again.”