Part of the mandate the new Victoria Grizzlies ownership group — Vancouver Island Sports and Entertainment Ltd. — adopted in taking over the B.C. Hockey League club last season, along with a winning record, was more local content.
Consider that end of the bargain a work very much in progress as Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick and his assistant Craig Didmon introduced five local recruits on Wednesday for the upcoming season.
The addition of goaltender Nic Renyard (acquired in a three-way deal last week from Penticton), fellow netminder Alec Dillon, defenceman Brandon Egli and forwards Cole Pickup and Shawn McBride brings the number of Victoria products up to eight from three as they join returnees David Walchuk, Mitch Meek and Dante Hahn.
Renyard played last season with the Vees (10-6 record with a shutout, 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 20 games), while Dillon, Egli, Pickup and McBride were all affiliated players with the Grizzlies, and were expected to join the team as regulars for the 2013-14 campaign.
Pickup led the South Island Royals major midget team in scoring with 43 points in 37 games.
“We’re really fortunate. Victoria has produced some great players over the years,” said Bestwick. “The quantity and quality of players here are as good as any we have seen anywhere in our scouting, so we’re real excited about these five kids we’ve added to our roster.”
Dillon — who played Junior B with the Westshore Wolves last season — competed for a spot with the Grizzlies the last two years.
“We’re counting on Alec to have a great summer and take the step and move up — be a support mechanism and push Nic,” said Bestwick. “Nic is the vet, he’s the guy. We all know that, but Alec is going to have to win his share of hockey games for us.”
Last season’s goalies Brady Rouleau (graduated) and Mike Stiliadis (wanted to return to Ontario and was traded there last week for defenceman Alex Adams) are both gone.
“Nic has played in a great organization. He understands what it takes to be a champion and to win. He’s played in an environment where winning is important and hopefully he’ll bring that same attitude here,” said Bestwick, whose team will open the season against the Vees at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack.
“Nic told me he wasn’t too excited about that game,” Bestwick said, jokingly, at Wednesday’s news conference.
“It’s awesome to get back home. It was an interesting year away, but it’s good to be back,” said Renyard.
“I looked at the calendar as soon as I found out and I couldn’t be more excited,” the 18-year-old said of facing his former team.
The Grizzlies also recently traded defenceman Jaden Schmeisser to West Kelowna for future considerations as Bestwick opens up a spot for another 20-year-old.
Others set to join the Grizzlies are defenceman Nick Chanif of the Edmonton South Side Athletic Club and five recruits from the St. Andrew’s College hockey program in Toronto — defencemen Rory McGuire and Jacob Kearley and forwards Adam Moodie, Jay Mackie and Jake Stirling.
The Grizzlies also announced that Scott Hawthorn joins the team as video coach.