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Cody Monds, Victoria Grizzlies salvage road trip

Cody Monds had four points in Sunday’s Grizzlies’ win over the Eagles.

Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
JANUARY 6, 2020 10:02 PM

The Victoria Grizzlies will retire Stanley Cup-champion Tyler Bozak’s No. 11 jersey on Friday night at The Q Centre. They were probably wishing he was time-machined back into the lineup last week in two dreadful losses, although on Sunday, the Grizzlies rebounded and maybe even got a glimpse of a possible future Bozak-type player in Cody Monds.

The Grizzlies (16-26), beaten badly 8-0 in Wenatchee and 8-4 in Penticton in the first two games, salvaged a three-games-in-three days road trip with a 4-3 victory Sunday over the Surrey Eagles (15-19-6). The rookie Monds did his best Bozak impression with two goals and two assists Sunday, while Alex DiPaolo scored the other two Grizzlies goals.

“You look at a guy like Monds, who has a very similar style to a Bozak,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.

“Monds is 18 and actually has better numbers than Bozak did in his first year here at that age. Tyler Bozak played here until age 20 and really developed his game in Victoria. Two and a half years later, he is playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s important for our current players to know that those types of players have come through our program and that you can get there from here.”

Monds is committed to NCAA Div. 1 Providence the season after next, and will return to Victoria next season. He is already starting to dazzle, climbing to fifth overall in BCHL scoring with 44 points, which also tops all rookies this season.

“[Monds] is getting better every day,” said Didmon.

“He is a focused young man with a ton of confidence, which is only growing. He makes great plays and is showing a lot of chemistry with DiPaolo and Marty Westhaver.”

Liam Souliere picked up his first BCHL victory in goal for Victoria with a busy 37-save performance Sunday to rally nicely from the night before. The touted goaltender from Blainville, Que., headed in the fall to NCAA Div. 1 hockey with the Penn State Nittany Lions, missed most of the season to a lower-body injury and made his Grizzlies debut Saturday night in Pentiction with the powerhouse Vees rather rudely welcoming him to the BCHL by whipping in eight goals.

“It’s hard to miss so many games and then come back,” said Didmon.

“But Souliere found his stride Sunday and showed flashes of where he is going to get to. He has the green light from us to work his way through. What we saw Sunday from him was promising.”

For himself personally and the team overall.

“It was good to come out with a win on the road trip after being out of sorts for the first couple of games,” said Didmon.

Meanwhile, the retiring of Bozak’s jersey will take place before Friday night’s game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Bozak, a forward with the St. Louis Blues, can’t make it back to the Island for the occasion due to his NHL commitments. He has sent a video to be played on the arena big screen.

Bozak began his junior career when the Victoria team was known as the Salsa. The Regina native had 15 goals and 31 points in his rookie season with the Salsa in 2004-05 and 31 goals and 69 points the following season. He exploded for 45 goals and 128 points when the franchise switched its name to the Grizzlies in 2006-07. Bozak is third all-time in career franchise points with 228 on 91 goals and 137 assists.

Undrafted out of the University of Denver, Bozak has gone on to score 157 goals and accumulate 422 points in 708 regular-season games with the Maple Leafs and the Blues, winning the Stanley Cup with St. Louis last spring.

“Tyler was one of the ultimate Grizzlies and his leadership, on and off the ice, is an example we try and implement on all players coming up through our organization,” Grizzlies president Lance Black said.

The last two former Grizzlies players to have jerseys retired before Bozak — numbers 16 and 8 — were NHL-playing siblings Jamie and Jordie Benn in 2018.

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