Picard leading Victoria Grizzlies into BCHL stretch drive

Olivier Picard leads the Grizzlies in scoring heading into this weekend’s pair of games against the Coquitlam Express. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST)

Cleve Dheensaw

You simply can’t have enough experienced players this time of year in hockey. They are worth their weight in pucks and tape.

A Memorial Cup champion, who has already turned 21, has got to be a junior coach’s dream player heading down the stretch drive to the playoffs.

Olivier Picard, named B.C. Hockey League second-star of the week, has proven all that and more for the Victoria ­Grizzlies. Picard had three goals and two assists for five points in the Grizzlies’ 6-2 and 6-3 road victories last weekend over the Surrey Eagles and Langley Rivermen, respectively, as he extended his three-game streak to seven points.

“[Picard] checked every box and that’s the reason we recruited him in the off-season,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Rylan Ferster.

“He has brought so much to us in terms of culture and foundation.”

A player learns and ­experiences a lot in winning a Memorial Cup, something ­Picard achieved last season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The six-foot native of Sherbrooke, Que., also played two seasons for the Val d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, and came across country to finish off his final year of junior in the BCHL.

It proved a good move as Picard has a team-leading and league sixth-best 22 goals and leads the Grizzlies with 41 points in 39 games and was named to the BCHL 3-on-3 outdoor all-star weekend game last month in Penticton.

Picard paces the Grizzlies ­(20-13-6) into a two-game set tonight and Sunday at The Q Centre against the Coquitlam Express (19-15-6) that could prove significant in terms of playoff seeding and home-ice advantage. The Express are sixth in the Coastal Conference but only two points behind the Grizzlies with a game in hand. Victoria is tied for third place in the conference with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, with only two points separating third and sixth places, and the fifth-place Chilliwack Chiefs are also in that tight mix and one point behind the Bulldogs and ­Grizzlies.

“This is what fans want this time of season with every game important,” said Ferster.

“It’s like the playoffs already.”

The Coastal Conference 1-2 Nanaimo Clippers (30-8-1) and Surrey Eagles (25-11-3) have clinched playoff berths.

ICE CHIPS: Tonight is Help Fill A Dream Night at The Q Centre to raise funds for the childrens’ charity.