The Victoria Grizzlies have spent more time in recent seasons battling near the top of the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division than floundering at the foot of the table.
That’s what having players such as 2019 NHL first-round draft pick Alex Newhook does for you.
But those heady days continued to recede as the Grizzlies fell to 6-11 following Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the visiting Wenatchee Wild (8-5-2) at The Q Centre.
“We have a good young group and just have to stick to the plan,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
“We have to hold on and keep working hard.”
There have been a number of extenuating circumstances.
“We had a very tough schedule to begin the season [eight consecutive road games to begin due to the Victoria Shamrocks hosting the 2019 Mann Cup national lacrosse final at The Q Centre] and a host of injuries,” said Didmon.
Included in the latter have been goaltender Liam Souliere, committed to the NCAA Div. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions but out to date, and captain Marty Westhaver, missing the past four games. Veteran blue-liner Brady MacDonald has also missed several weeks with an upper-body injury. Both Westhaver and MacDonald are due back soon, while Souliere remains out several more weeks.
“We are starting to get bodies back and that will help,” said Didmon.
What won’t help is the five-game suspension issued by the league to Grizzlies defenceman Isack Bandu for his match penalty for a blow to the head in the 6-2 loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday night at The Q Centre.
The short-handed Grizzlies, playing their third game in three days, ran out of gas Sunday. But the Wild were also completing a three-games-in-three-days stretch, so that point only goes so far.
“We were pressing against Wenatchee but the game got away from us,” said Didmon.
The Grizzlies are in Nanaimo on Friday to meet the Clippers (10-5-1) and host the defending league-champion Prince George Spruce Kings (5-7-3) on Saturday at The Q Centre.