Monday, August 31, 2015 – Submitted by Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
Craig Didmon is down to 18 forwards, 10 defencemen and three goaltenders as the Victoria Grizzlies’ head coach and general manager pares down what will eventually be his roster for the 2015-16 B.C. Hockey League season.
“We’re getting where we want to get to,” said Didmon, who was contemplating a few more cuts late Monday after dropping a second straight pre-season result, this time 5-4, to the Cowichan Valley Capitals the day before. “We still have some kids we want to get a good look at.”
The second result came before roughly 350 fans at Juan de Fuca Arena Sunday afternoon following a 5-0 blanking in Duncan on Saturday night.
The Grizzlies will look for win No. 1 tonight at 7 at JDF Arena as the Nanaimo Clippers come calling. The teams will then venture to Frank Crane Arena on Wednesday.
“For us it was a matter of playing everybody, with about half our team in each game,” said Didmon. “We’re playing more to evaluate more so than win. In saying that, the guys did battle hard. I didn’t think the score from the first game was indicative of the game.”
Didmon will play Mitchell Benson in goal for all of tonight’s game.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to show us that he belongs here,” Didmon said of the netminder, who remains in camp with starter Matthew Galajda and local product Chris Smith.
On Sunday, Galajda started and gave up two goals, although one got by him on a redirection off teammate J.D. Falconer. Smith allowed three goals in the second half of the game.
Falconer scored a pair of goals 20 seconds apart, shortly after Joey Visconti had provided the Grizzlies with their first goal of the preseason. Victoria scored three times in the final two minutes of the second to take a 3-2 lead.
Jared Domin tied it at 3-3 before Grizzlies defenceman Jake Stevens blasted in a slapper on an assist to P.J. Conlon to take a 4-3 lead at 9:53 of the third, but the locals couldn’t hang on.
Mackenzie Bauer recorded the winner for the Capitals at 14:30 of the third after Daniel Wanner had tied it a minute after Stevens’ goal. Ryan Burton and Nicholas Wicks had provided the Capitals a 2-0 lead.
Following the two games with Nanaimo, the Grizzlies will play a home-and-home pre-season set with Alberni Valley with Game 1 going Friday night in Alberni and the second game on Saturday night at Westhills Arena in Langford.