It’s all about learning as new-look Grizzlies begin preseason

Victoria Grizzlies forward Owen Hardy wheels around Cowichan Valley Capitals defenceman Jonathan Soares during Monday’s preseason game at SEAPARC Leisure Centre in Sooke. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

As Rylan Ferster oversaw his first B.C. Hockey League preseason game as the Victoria Grizzlies new general manager and head coach, he saw what everyone else at a jam-packed SEAPARC Leisure Centre in Sooke saw on Monday afternoon as the Cowichan Valley Capitals beat the Grizzlies 5-2 — some good things, but not a lot of great things.

And that’s also what the veteran bench boss saw all weekend during the first few days of training camp at Juan de Fuca Arena.

But that doesn’t surprise Ferster as it’s a new coaching staff dealing with plenty of new faces as the Grizzlies return 12 players from last year’s squad.

“It’s a learning process, not just for the players, but for myself as I’m also new here,” said Ferster, who dressed just one returning player — defenceman Michael Adamek — on Monday.

“So we had some nervous players in the game, with everyone just getting their feet wet, so it’s tough to make any serious judgements, but we got a good look at a lot of players.”

The Grizzlies opened the scoring Monday, just 50 seconds in when blue-liner Holdin Getzlaf, who played last season for the Junior B Kamloops Storm, buried a one-timer after a nice feed from Westshore Wolves-signed forward Jake Westhaver. But there wasn’t much Grizzlies attack after that, despite a late goal with the netminder pulled.

After three days of practice and scrimmages and the first preseason game, Ferster plans to trim his roster from the 42 in camp to about 27 by today as the Grizzlies prepare for a pair of preseason games this weekend against the Nanaimo Clippers beginning Friday night at The Q Centre and finishing Saturday night at Frank Crane Arena.

“We saw some good things over the weekend, but I don’t think anyone really stood out,” said Ferster.

“And for me, training camp continues this week and then, obviously, with the numbers down to a more manageable level by this weekend, we’ll get some more veterans in the games and have a better feel for where we’re at then.”

The Grizzlies’ season opener is on Sept. 23 when they play host to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at The Q Centre.

LOOSE PUCKS: Two 17-year-olds, Oliver Auyeung-Ashton, out of the major-midget Vancouver Northeast Chiefs, and Jesse Peye, of the South Island Royals Under-18 squad, split the duties in goal for the Grizzlies on Monday.