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Grizzlies up for the challenge of tough weekend

MARIO ANNICCHIARICO / TIMES COLONIST
OCTOBER 12, 2017 10:34 PM

The first three-games-in-three-days road trip can be intriguing for young B.C. Hockey League rookies.

Jacson Alexander will be among a handful of them as the Victoria Grizzlies set sail on a busy weekend that begins tonight in Trail before moving on to Penticton on Saturday and culminating in Surrey on Sunday.

The 16-year-old defenceman is looking forward to the challenge, the first of four such weekends for the 7-3-0-0 Grizzlies.

“It’s nice to go on the road with a lot of young guys. We went to Powell River to start the year, but that’s not really a long road trip so this will be fun and I’m looking forward to it,” said Alexander, who along with Alex Newhook, Tanner Hopps and Lach Hadley all attend Belmont Secondary.

“All the school guys, like myself and Alex and Tanner and Lach all get along really well because we’re always together. It’s great to get to know each other really well.”

And they all know and respect the rules of the bus when it comes to rookies.

“Yeah, we kind of get pushed up to the front a little bit. Sometimes in smaller buses we have to share seats, which kind of sucks, but hopefully this is a bigger bus,” Alexander said with a chuckle.

The rules on such a grinding weekend are the same for everyone, try and get as much rest as you can.

“You’re trying to sleep as much as you can and you have to learn how to sleep anywhere, really,” he said. “You tend to get tired and by that Sunday game we’re going to have to try and find a way to do well with little sleep.”

So far Alexander has managed a goal and an assist in seven games. The local product is returning from an upper body injury sustained in an open-ice collision that forced him out of the last three games.

“I have enjoyed everything. I had the one little injury — out for a few days, but I was happy to get back. It could’ve been a lot worse. I’m happy to be back with the guys and playing games,” he said.

Shawn O’Malley and Cam Thompson are also expected to return from injuries, which is important on a trip such as this one.

“Jacson could have played last weekend, but we wanted to make sure we were looking after him,” said general manager and head coach Craig Didmon. “The fact that we have three games in three days means we have the ability to move guys in and out.

“We’re excited to have Thompson back and O’Malley back, that adds a couple of experienced veterans back and to have Jacson back as well gives us a boost so I’m excited about the game [today].”

It’s certainly not an easy trip as Trail is 7-3-1-0 and Penticton is undefeated in regulation time at 6-0-0-1. Surrey is struggling yet again at 3-7-1-1.

“It’s a battle of attrition, this trip, and I like it because it’s a challenge. Our veterans and our young guys want that challenge,” said Didmon. “At the same time it’s good for the group to get away and step up to that challenge. Adversity makes you stronger.

“We’ve had a good schedule. We’ve spent a lot of time on the Island this year and it’s good to see new rinks and get new inspiration. Let’s step up to the plate and come back a better team,” added Didmon.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

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