Brian Drewry / The Times Colonist
OCTOBER 10, 2021 06:00 AM
It was mission accomplished for the Victoria Grizzlies in their B.C. Hockey League season opener on Friday night, now the next task is to keep it going this afternoon when the Cowichan Valley Capitals come to The Q Centre for a matinee affair at 2 p.m.
On Friday, against the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs, the Grizzlies showed why they can be one of the top teams in the league, although it took a while to get there.
After a 50-minute delay due to the Bulldogs having transportation issues on the trip down, both teams started slowly, but in the second period, the Grizzlies came to life.
Victoria came away with a 6-2 victory, getting strong goaltending from veteran Carter Woodside, plenty of offence from their talented blue-line unit, and an impressive showing from their young star Matthew Wood. The 16-year-old Wood, who hails from Nanaimo, showed why he already has an NCAA Division 1 scholarship to the University of Connecticut and is highly touted for the 2023 NHL draft. He scored twice and added two assists to get his BCHL career off on the right foot.
“He’s a special talent, there’s no doubt about that,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
“He’s got a ton of confidence and is surrounded by good players and they’re making some great plays, so he’s having success right now.”
Didmon wasn’t surprised by the slow start.
“The long delay affected them, but once they got going and found their game everything started to click.”
Wood’s great game was aided by a strong performance by linemate Connor Eddy, who scored shorthanded and added two assists. And the Grizzlies got offence from their defence. Blue-liners Declan Ride, Justin Gibson and Clark Hiebert all had goals.
“They’re an offensive bunch we have and it showed,” said Didmon. “They like to create plays from the back end and you like to see that as a coach.”
It wasn’t all roses on Friday, though. Grizzlies captain Ellis Rickwood left early in their third period with an undisclosed injury and is doubtful for today’s game.
“Ellis just thought he couldn’t play at 100 per cent, so being early in the season we wanted to be very cautious and we’ll see how he is [this] morning,” said Didmon.
The Capitals opened their season Saturday night, hosting the Bulldogs. The Grizzlies faced them twice in the preseason and split the two games.
“They’re a team that works extremely hard so if you don’t match or better their intensity, you’re usually in trouble” Didmon said.
LOOSE PUCKS: Following today’s game, the Grizzlies hit the road for two games. They’ll be in Duncan on Wednesday night to face the Capitals and then visit Port Alberni on Friday night for a re-match with the Bulldogs.
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