As a 19-year-old, Darwin Lakoduc aims to thrive in a larger role with the Grizzlies.
Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST
Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
AUGUST 29, 2019 09:53 PM
Darwin Lakoduc and Henri Shreifels are on a mission.
And if the two 19-year-old Victoria Grizzlies complete that mission, the B.C. Hockey League team will be playing well into the spring.
Last season, on a Grizzlies team loaded with talent up front with the likes of NHL draft picks Alex Newhook, Alex Campbell and Riley Hughes, Lakoduc and Schreifels, fast and skilled forwards in their own right, patrolled the third line for Victoria. Fast-forward to the BCHL preseason this year, which continues tonight for the Grizzlies when they travel to Duncan to face the Cowichan Valley Capitals, and Lakoduc and Schreifels find themselves in the Grizzlies’ top-six group of forwards, counted on to put up points and be leaders on and off the ice.
And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’re going to have a real good team again this year so I expect to contribute offensively and I’m sure the coaching staff expects me to do that as well,” said Lakoduc, who scored five goals and seven assists in 47 games last season.
“We kind of had the dream team last year on offence and we have a lot of skilled players again this year, but I think we also have a deep team that is good all around at both ends of the rink and I think that’s what you need to be successful in this league.”
Lakoduc came out the CAC Canadians minor hockey program in Edmonton and got his hockey started on the Island with one season with the Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He put up 48 points in 48 games to be named the Cougars rookie of the year in 2017-18.
Now he hopes to find that scoring touch in the BCHL and help a new group of talented Grizzlies find their way.
“The team has looked good in preseason and I don’t mind helping the young guys along because, as I found out, it’s a big jump from midget to the BCHL so any help you can get is great.
“I’ve been paired with [newcomer] Brendan [Bowie] and he’s got great skill and moves the puck really well and finds the open ice so with new guys like that I think we’re in good shape.”
Schreifels, who spent his off-season training back home in Agoura Hills, California, heads into this season coming off an impressive showing in last spring’s playoffs, where he chipped in two goals and four assists in 15 post-season games. The six-foot-one, 195-pound winger also brings a physicality to the Grizzlies’ top-six group and expects a big year that hopefully results in NCAA scholarship offers.
“I’m excited about this season. I had a great summer of training on and off the ice and I’m rarin’ to go,” said Schreifels, who had six goals and nine assists in 38 regular season games last season.
“I had some great role models last season with all the great vets we had and hopefully I can be that kind of leader for the new guys we have this season.”
Despite losing their first two preseason games, Schreifels expects the Grizzlies to be at the top of the Island Division again and even go deeper than the final four they had last season.
“It’s definitely a younger team this year, but the skill level is extremely high and we look to be very deep at forward and that’s what you need for a long playoff run.”
Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon has brought in several skilled rookies such as Bowie, Cody Monds, Chase McInnis and Andrew Amousse, but it’s his veterans such as Lakoduc and Schreifels who he expects to carry the torch passed down form the Newhooks and Campbells.
“Darwin and Henri will both get more ice time than they were used to in the past, and they realize it’s a great opportunity for them to showcase themselves and they’ve looked great in camp and preseason so we’re expecting big things from them this season,” said Didmon.
“They’re also two guys chasing [NCAA] scholarships and they look ready for the added responsibility and pressure that comes with being a leader in this league.”
After tonight, the Grizzlies will wrap up the preseason on Saturday afternoon with their annual game at the Seaparc Leisure Complex in Sooke. They’ll again take on the Capitals with puck-drop at 2 p.m.
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