Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST
JANUARY 11, 2018 06:18 PM
As any B.C. Hockey League coach will tell you, the month of January can be a critical one as you point your hockey team toward the post-season.
The Victoria Grizzlies enjoyed a strong January in 2017, winning eight games to go with four losses.
This season they are undefeated in four games so far this month and, with a win (or tie) tonight at The Q Centre against the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs, can stretch an undefeated streak dating back to Dec. 9 to 10 games.
Victoria (22-14-3-2) could move into sole possession of first place in the Island Division. The Bulldogs sit at 11-22-3-4, 10 points up on last-place Cowichan Valley.
“We’re down to the last two months here, so teams are going to be jockeying for position for playoffs. And obviously, you want to have good momentum heading into the final stretch in February,” Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon said.
“You spend the first half developing and learning, and now it’s a process. Our division is so tight, too, so it’s an important month for sure. I know it is for us,” he stressed. “We responded well last year and that kept us going.”
What’s also important is the fact that teams are now down to their final rosters as the trade deadline passed on Wednesday. The Grizzlies stood pat.
“This is your team now. With us it didn’t change much, but you want positive results,” said Didmon, who has looked ahead in the schedule. “We’ve got two three-game road trips, one this month and one next month. And that will be important: To get out-of-division points, which would help us in the end.”
Following tonight’s and Sunday afternoon’s home game against Powell River, the Grizzlies will have 15 contests remaining, with just six at home.
They have not seen Alberni Valley in a month and are 5-1 in six previous matchups against the Bulldogs, who want to grab that last playoff spot in the Island Division.
The Bulldogs did make some moves at the deadline, sending defenceman Connor Welsh to Trail for future considerations. They also transferred Ryan Steele’s CJHL playing rights to West Kelowna for the rights to Spencer Hora and future considerations.
Coach Matt Hughes also announced that Julian Benner and Michael Sacco will return to the lineup from injury. However, the Bulldogs have lost Liam Lytton and Ezra Paddock to injuries for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile, Grizzlies defenceman Drayson Pears is still a few weeks away from returning from his shoulder injury.
Grizzlies VS Bulldogs Tonight at the Q
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Grizzlies Fans Can Win Big!
Expedia Cruiseshipcenters and Royal Caribbean will be giving away a 3-4 night cruise in an oceanview stateroom at tonight’s game. Make sure to visit the Expedia Cruiseshipcenters booth at the game to enter.
$2000 CHUCK A PUCK CONTEST
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