The pre-season has come and gone and so, too, has the roster paring.
Capping the exhibition B.C. Hockey League campaign with a 5-2 victory Sunday afternoon over the Powell River Kings at Bear Mountain Arena, Victoria Grizzlies’ general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick was working on finalizing his roster on Monday.
With 25 remaining bodies on Sunday, he and associate coach Craig Didmon and staff had to cut down to 22 by today’s deadline for submitting rosters to the league for the 2012-13 season.
Bestwick released Justin Rai following the game and added young Shawn McBride and Eben Norman to the departed list, but was still considering tinkering his lineup before the season begins with the BCHL Showcase on Friday in Chilliwack.
“Shawn was very close, very close,” Bestwick said of McBride, who looked good throughout camp. “There are likely more adjustments and alterations to follow. It could be as early as this week. I’m not sure, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with other teams and leagues.”
Bestwick could still tweak his lineup, possibly before the season begins on Friday at 4 p.m. against Coquitlam.
“We’re looking at several places. We know there’s going to be considerable fallout to come,” he said of ongoing major junior teams who will also have to cut down.
What Bestwick received Sunday at Bear Mountain Arena was two goals from Gerry Fitzgerald and singles from Chaise Kaiser, Dante Hahn and Garrett Skirbich in the victory. He also witnessed solid goaltending from starter Brady Rouleau, who stopped all 17 shots he faced over 29:52, and Mike Stiliadis who mopped up and made two spectacular saves in the second.
Stiliadis halted 13 of 15 shots as J.P. Villeneuve and Luke Nogard scored at 9:55 and 11:21 of the third for the visitors, who were down 3-0.
Fitzgerald opened up scoring on a shot from the right boards at 8:11 of the first period, an offering that Kings’ netminder Braeden Ostepchuck would like to have back. Kaiser made it 2-0 at 18:31 of the opening stanza before Victoria led
3-0 after 40 minutes.
The Fitzgerald triplets — including Myles and Leo — are proving they can fly and will be a nuisance for most BCHL opposition, but Bestwick may need some more depth up front.
The Grizzlies’ power play struggled on Sunday going 2-for-8, including lengthy 5-on-3 scenarios in the first and third periods in which they failed to cash.
“Our power play was suspect. Five-on-three and you don’t get a quality scoring chance,” said Bestwick. “We didn’t take advantage of that, but it’s early and we’ll figure it out.”
Fitzgerald’s second goal of the afternoon came on a man advantage as Blake Thompson slipped him a nice pass for his second assist of the game. Hahn’s was also a power-play marker as Victoria out-shot Powell River 37-32.
The Grizzlies now focus on the Express on Friday afternoon and then face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Victoria’s home-opener is set for Sept. 14 when Powell River returns to Bear Mountain Arena at 7:15 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: The five Grizzlies who did not play Sunday were Mitch Meek, Jesse Ursic, Jaden Schmeisser, McBride and Justin Pollischuk.