Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
JUNE 28, 2017 10:14 PM
Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist
The semi-annual threat of Mann Cup lacrosse games being played at their home in September will once again force the Victoria Grizzlies on the road for most of the first month of the 2017-18 B.C. Hockey League season.
The defending Island Division-champion Grizzlies will play their first six regular season games away from The Q Centre as the Victoria Shamrocks go on their quest for another Western Lacrosse Association championship and the right to host the Mann Cup national championship series. The Grizzlies will open their season with a pair of games in Powell River against the Kings on Sept. 8-9. That will be followed by games in Port Alberni against the Bulldogs (Sept. 15) and in Nanaimo against the Clippers (Sept. 16). The next two Grizzlies games will be at the annual Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. The Grizzlies will face the Prince George Spruce Kings on Sept. 23 at Prospera Centre, turn around and face the Coquitlam Express the next day, again at the home of the Chiefs.
“It’ll be a tough start, but at the same time it’ll be good for the team to face some adversity early,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon. “And we have a strong veteran group coming back so we’ll be ready.”
The Grizzlies’ home opener is set for Sept. 29 when the Vernon Vipers pay a visit to The Q Centre. That will be followed by a Sept. 30 date with the visiting Langley Rivermen.
“It will be good to finally get home because the Island Division will be really strong this year,” added Didmon. “Powell River is always a good program, Nanaimo and Cowichan have good groups returning, and Alberni has a new coach and will be out to prove something.”
Victoria wraps up the regular season campaign with a pair of home games against Alberni Valley on Feb. 22 and the Surrey Eagles on Feb. 25.
The BCHL playoffs begin March 2.
Meanwhile, Didmon is busy retooling his roster for the upcoming season and on Wednesday he added another piece to his blue-line corp.
The Grizzlies acquired the rights to 20-year-old defenceman Matt Doran from the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League.
Doran, from St. Louis, Missouri, brings 150 games of junior hockey experience to Victoria, and last season had 34 points in 55 games for the Chill.
“I like the way he plays the game,” said Didmon. “He is a physical guy and skilled and he competes hard.”
The Grizzlies open training camp Aug. 21 and that will be followed by seven preseason games.