Don't look now, but suddenly and in spite of one of the biggest trades of the season, (the acquisition on 3 Nov of Brayden Gelsinger from the Capitals), the Warriors have lost 2 of their last 3 games. They will be ready for Victoria Saturday night for sure. But the Grizzlies won't forget the Warriors storming back from that 3-0, first period deficit to outscore the Grizzlies on home ice back on Sunday 26 Oct. That heartbreaking loss left a mark and I suspect the Grizzlies will want major pay-back. They will check much tighter the likes of Micheal Buonincontri, Liam Blackburn and Jonathan Desbiens, but even with what I sense will be a somewhat lower score this time, I feel this one will end in a tight Warriors 2OT win.
Prediction: 5-4 Warriors (2OT)
Vernon Vipers - Sunday 2pm - Kal Tire Place
This will be the game I am most interested in seeing this weekend, in part because we get to see Mitch Meek and Brandon Egli face their former team. But also because it is the end of a road trip to the interior and I want to see if we can close games out a little better than we did a month ago when we lost late in OT to Merritt. With a modest Vipers two game winning streak coming into this weekend's action, no matter which Vipers goalie gets the call, the Grizzlies will be in tough. The Grizzlies will be tired after four days on the bus and I worry this will be too much for them and the huge crowds the Vipers usually draw at The Kal. But I am going to go for a Grizzlies win in this one, with the kids digging deep on the road setting up for a fun and relaxing post game bus ride to Tswassen Ferry Terminals and on home to Victoria late Sunday night.
Prediction: 3-2 Grizzlies
So I am going for 5 points out of a possible 6 on the weekend and while that may seem a bit ambitious, especially vs Interior Division foes, I think the team is now primed for a nice big tough road trip. After the positive week they had last week with that win up in Alberni followed by a single but equally impressive OT point vs the powerhouse Vees, the week was complimented by that huge 4 goal comeback vs Powell River on Saturday. This well rested Grizzlies team is pulling on the leech just bit at the moment I feel. While almost all teams have hit the 20 game Quarter Pole on the season, the Grizzlies at 17 games played, won't be there until the end of the Vernon game. So as strange as the BCHL schedule is once again this year, my bet is that the team needs to go on the road now and build on many of the positives from the many team building events they have enjoyed in recent weeks.
Finally, I read CFAX 1070's Steve Duffy's Blog from a few days ago about failing attendance numbers this year at the Q Centre. I like Steve Duffy, but what he said scared the hell out of me. He is as puzzled as any of us about, (let's face fact folks), the really obvious meager crowds we are seeing this season at home games. I get the fact that the high flying Triplets are now gone, I get the fact that there have been a large number of recent changes in ownership and management, but this team plays with one of the most dramatic styles of hockey I have seen in years. So I am calling on all West Shore fans, heck all Victoria fans to get out from behind your 70" TVs, to get away from your Canucks games and come down to the Q Centre next Friday night to welcome the boys back to our barn as we face the Nanaimo Clippers. After all, Woody Allen's famous words don't just apply to the fine young men in those Grizzlies uniforms, they apply to all of us. If we want to enjoy that coveted 80% of success, we all need to just show up.