Whirlwind weekend from Grizzlies to Habs for Gorton clan

Cleve Dheensaw

Jack Gorton and the Grizzlies narrowly lost to the Rivermen on Sunday. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria Grizzlies forward Jack Gorton said he was getting so many texts and calls Sunday that he had to turn his phone off.

It isn’t every day that your dad is named executive vice-president of hockey operations for the Montreal Canadiens.

“Montreal is an Original Six team and a huge hockey market. It doesn’t get any better than that,” said the younger Gorton, about Jeff Gorton’s appointment on Sunday.

Not that the elder Gorton, who was in Victoria on the ­weekend to watch his son play at The Q Centre, is a stranger to the Original Six. He was general manager of the New York Rangers, replacing Glen Sather in 2015 in a run through this year, and assistant GM of the Rangers and Boston Bruins before that.

The six-foot-three Jack ­Gorton, 19, has three goals and three assists for six points in 19 games for the Grizzlies and said he learned a lot about the game from his dad. He came to the Grizzlies this season from Trinity-Pawling School of Pawling, New York, in the New England Prep League. Although an American, he is receiving a crash course in Canadian hockey in the BCHL and now with the reaction to his father’s new position with the Canadiens.

“I’m getting to know a lot about the culture up here and how important hockey is in ­Canada,” he said.

Gorton isn’t the only Grizzlies’ American player with NHL familial connections. Forward Jackson Morehouse, son of Pittsburgh Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse, scored the lone Victoria goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Langley Rivermen at The Q Centre. Defenceman Justin Gibson from Pittsburgh is the brother of Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, projected as the U.S. goaltending tandem with Connor Hellebuyck for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, the loss to Langley was Victoria’s third consecutive defeat. The rejuvenated Rivermen, historically a mid-pack team in the BCHL, are suddenly the real deal and lead the Coastal Conference at 13-3-3. The Grizzlies fell to 11-9.

“We worked hard but were missing a lot of guys,” said ­Gorton.

They included Grizzlies captain Ellis Rickwood, sitting out a one-game suspension. Veteran defenceman Isack Bandu, committed to Northern Michigan of the NCAA, is injured and not expected back before Christmas. High-scoring forward Connor Eddy was also out to injury. The Grizzlies were also missing 16-year-old rookie prodigy Matthew Wood. The Nanaimo product, committed to UConn and likely headed for selection in the 2023 NHL draft, is in Ottawa with the top U-17 players in the country. They are there for the Capital City Challenge tournament through Wednesday to take on the Canadian women’s national team to help it prepare for the Beijing Olympics.

“It’s a chance for other guys to step up and show what they can do,” said Gorton. “I am going to keep working hard every day to get better and improve.”

The Grizzlies continue their home stand at The Q Centre on Friday and Saturday with games against the Surrey Eagles (8-9) and Chilliwack Chiefs (9-6).