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Victoria Grizzlies’ busy week begins with trying to slow fast-charging Express

Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
OCTOBER 28, 2019 10:00 PM

If a three-game B.C. Hockey League home losing streak isn’t enough to contend with, the Island Division last-place Victoria Grizzlies will have to go through Massimo Rizzo and the Mainland Division-leading Coquitlam Express in order to snap it tonight at The Q Centre.

Rizzo, who is committed to North Dakota of the NCAA, is a 2019 seventh-round NHL draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. The former Penticton Vees captain was pegged to go much higher but Rizzo missed a big chunk of the first portion of the 2018-19 BCHL season and his pro stock dropped. The Burnaby product underwent surgery in an eventful off-season, which also saw him return to the Lower Mainland to play for the Express

It has not been an easy ride, especially in terms of health, for the crafty five-foot-10 centre, who has two goals and eight points in nine games this season for Coquitlam.

Rizzo isn’t the only weapon the Express possess in going 13-4 to start the season.

“This is a very deep Coquitlam roster with three or four lines that can score,” warned Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.

“But I expect the Express will be tested on their Island swing.”

The defending Island champion Grizzlies are rebuilding at 7-12 but Didmon noted that some of his young charges’ best games this season have come against elite teams.

“Going up against the top teams brings out a sense of urgency and we have played well against those teams,” said Didmon.

“Maybe we’re not as worried when we aren’t facing the top teams. We need more impeccable habits than that and to go the full 60 minutes every game.”

The Grizzlies will move on after tonight with an all-Okanagan weekend in Colwood with the Vernon Vipers visiting The Q Centre on Friday and the Penticton Vees on Saturday.

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