Saturday, 20 December 2014

Don't Poke The Bear: Tough 3-2 Double OT loss vs BCHL Champs Poco Express

I used to dislike rather intensely when my parents would talk about silver linings. They would do that when I would come home from school and tell them things like the time I got cut from my middle school basketball team.  "Well Clayton, maybe there is a silver lining in there somewhere? You really are a talented mogul skier, maybe that should be your focus?" I mean what the hell is a silver lining anyway?

Try telling that to Michael Stiliadis or Cole Pickup or Jake Emilio or any of the Grizzlies players last night as they boarded the team bus heading back to the hotel after a heart breaking Double OT loss in the final second of 2OT.  I didn't and don't worry, I don't plan or trying to during any of my interactions with the team today. Have you ever poked a grizzly bear?  Well I haven't tried yet but I have heard that its a very bad idea.

But from purely a practical hockey standpoint, you kind of have to step back a try and see the forest through the trees in a moment like this.  I mean, you can sit around and feel sorry for yourself all you like, but at the end of the day, you are going to only end up where you started, alone, with nobody really giving two "You Know Whats".

The game last night was full of reasons to feel aggrieved though with a Garrett Forster 2nd Period Goal being ruled "No Goal" after what was a picture perfect rebound follow-up on a Matt Kennedy breakaway move. But the Goal Judge at that end of the ice with his Coquitlam Express jacket would be no end of trouble for the visiting Grizzlies all night at the Poirier Centre in Port Coquitlam. The game was the first of three consecutive road visits for the Grizzlies on the weekend before the team breaks up (temporarily) on Sunday for the Christmas Break. With the puck clearly in the net, the impartial and professional Goal Judge failed to depress the goal light and instead chose to interpret the play in the favour of the other team wearing white, black and yellow, the home team Poco Express.

After giving up a first period goal to the Express in the first period, the Grizzlies would fight through a tough series of penalties, some involving 5 on 3 situations and answer late at the end of Period #2 with a Brett Gruber PP goal to make it 2-1. The Grizzlies would be so strangely penalised in the game at one point in the middle frame, Justin Sadler would find himself sitting in the Penalty Box for an apparent hook only to be pulled out of the box to watch a Penalty Shot be awarded to the Express' Brendan Lamont. You could almost see the referees deciding that the penalty call wasn't severe enough, so maybe we better make it a Penalty Shot.  It was just a game of madness last night in North East Vancouver.

The Third Period would see the Grizzlies tie the game (again on the PP by Gruber) and send the game into OT for yet more drama. This of course all occurred in a season which frankly couldn't have possibly squeezed another drop of drama into the Drama Tank.  Both Goalies were excellent on the night with Michael Stiliadis turning away all shots except 3 of the 38 shots he faced on the night. But the other story on the night were the 48 shots by the Grizzlies and the performance of goalie Braden Krogfoss.  Krogfoss, (try saying that name on the air fast while you are angry) apparently, according to Express officials, played his best game of the year on Teddy Bear Toss Night for the Coquitlam Express. He was the game's Third Star.

The game would go to the final second of Double OT before the Express would score on a Buzzer Beater 2 on 1 play while enjoying the more open ice afforded by 3 on 3 Double OT Play. An obviously disappointed Grizzlies Team would leave Coquitlam with technically a loss on the night. But few of the players would know that both Powell River and Nanaimo would lose on the evening, thus giving the Grizzlies one more of those ever so small baby step points as they slowly but surely chip away at the leads enjoyed by their rival Island Division opponents.  Road points are ever so hard to come by, but this one was extra hard.

So it may have been one of those dare I say the words, silver linings games?  Well with Craig Didmon behind the bench, yes, they have technically now lost a hockey game, but the Grizzlies are still undefeated in Regulation Play after 5 games with the new Bench Boss calling the shots.  The team has very quietly earned 8 points out of a possible 10 since Coach Dids has returned to his old office at The Q Centre.

And its funny, because when you get to talk to fans and players through the relative safety of a hockey blog site or on Twitter, you tend to get brave. And I may just be brave enough to tell anyone who takes the time to read this story that last night's game was full of silver linings. The team's goals against are down, the offence is still potent, Grizzlies Specail Teams are very good and there is balance up and down the lineup whether at home or in the unfriendly confines of barns like The Poirier Centre.

So I am going to take my big long electronic stick and do something which is not very risky, at least not here in my hotel room on the road with the team. I am going to poke this Grizzly Bear and tell it something that it secretly knows but is not happy about at all.  That is the simple fact that getting points, any points, even after a heart breaker loss can have some good news attached, especially when you work your tail off.  The Grizzlies play the Langley Rivermen away tonight at the Langley Events Centre.

And now that I have poked the bear on the safe side of the cage, I suspect the Rivermen won't enjoy the fact that at 7pm tonight they will find themselves on the wrong side of that very safety barrier. Because I think I read somewhere that bears don't like being poked. -CC

PS: My parents were right, BTW, even at my advanced age, I can still crush moguls.


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