An Interior Road trip which featured, one win in three may be nothing to brag about but I almost want to Grade it a C-. It’s not an excuse, but the old days of team travel are long over and that was an issue on Friday for the Grizzlies. Think about it. The Grizzlies started their Friday at about 6:00am and they travelled for nearly 12 hours before their game time at 7pm that night. In the old days, the team would have left on a Thursday with a road practice in somewhere like Hope, BC. With a full night’s rest, the team would have arrived in Salmon Arm on Friday night and much more ready to take on the Silverbacks.
But that was the old days. In the old days, owners never thought twice about the costs associated with an extra day’s travel. But in the old days an extra day’s travel budget wasn’t the $4,000/day like it is now. In the old days that’s how you did things, heck clubs in those days were averaging 1,500+ fans. But it’s no longer the old days now is it? Today most teams suffer from lower attendances and they all suffer from much higher costs. Teams simply can’t afford that extra day on the road. Now teams have to do more with less. And that’s what happened Friday night in Salmon Arm. The Grizzlies faced a somewhat superior opponent at home and the visitors were forced into a 12 hour bus legs start. Oh well, welcome to the fiscal realities of the BCHL in 2015.
But before I go on any further, let me take a quick moment and applaud the fans of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. That Shaw Centre they have there is absolutely fantastic. Its not just the building, it’s the home town feel and love of their team which I respect. So I went out for a short walk between periods and what I saw almost blew me away. It was a total Home Town Friday Night Party. It felt like everybody in town was at that game. There were only 1,100 fans in that little building but it felt like way more. Almost every single one of them was decked out in either a Silverbacks t-shirt, ball cap, or jersey. There was even a huge lineup to get into the club’s team store “The Backs Shack”.
Those not dressed in Silverbacks gear all had a souvenir program or something Silverbacks in their hand. Plus, as you may know, The Shaw Centre has this cool gimmick whereby they hang a Silverback Gorilla stuffy on a zip line and whenever the Silverbacks score, guess what happens? The Gorilla goes for a ride along the zip line and the fans all go nuts. It was all very impressive, so I wanted to take a moment and give some props to the Silverbacks franchise and their fans on what I would argue was the best hockey atmosphere I have encountered thus far in this season. So well done to Salmon Arm. And come on Victoria, you can do it too!
Now back to “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” of the weekend. The good, the Grizzlies beat Vernon 2-0 on Saturday night and Matt Galajda earned his first career BCHL shut out, so well done to the whole team on road victory #1 of the season. The bad, the Grizzlies Powerplay went 0/18 on the weekend and dropped to dead last in the BCHL at 10.26% in PP efficiency. The ugly, with only 5 goals all weekend and with the Grizzlies firing 126 total shots, the team allowed opposing goalies to post a .960 save percentage and neither of the three opposition net minders were that good.
Now with all that bad news, here is something to lighten your spirits, the arrival of another talented forward into Grizzlies camp, this time former Grizzlie Dante Hahn. Hahn, no longer in his #13 will now wear Eric Lindros's old #88, a true classic. (full disclosure, I didn't even know that we had an #88 in the kit room) Hahn arrived via futures from the Coquitlam Express on Thursday. He got one practice in and then travelled with the team early Friday. He was the Grizzlies best forward on the road trip in my opinion. He played Centre with #22 Brayden Gelsinger on his left side and #19 Colby Livingstone on Hahn's right, all of which worked rather well.
|Dante Hahn in action vs the Bulldogs in 2013, wearing his old #13|
Hahn had a goal and an assist on a weekend which featured only 5 Grizzlie markers. Furthermore he was +1 over the three games which included a 5-1 loss to Salmon Arm. So overall I would say that the 20 year old provided an immediate and much needed impact on the Grizzlies roster. But here is the problem: Hahn fits into the 22 man roster in view of #21 Spencer Hunter being placed on the 30 Day Disabled List. But with Hahn playing so well and being an established BCHL 20 year old, there is little chance that he is going anywhere soon. That means that on 10 Nov, Coach Didmon will be in a tough spot. He will have to make a hard choice by that date, being forced to move a player off the roster, once he loses that 30 Day DL card and returns his club to a 22 man roster.
So since most of you missed all the action and offence on the road trip, here is a quick re-cap.
On Friday night, in the 3rd period vs SA, Livingstone, got on the end of a Dante Hahn pass after a Hahn recovered his own rebound. Settling it onto his stick, Livingstone fired off an easy shot into an open net beating Silverbacks goalie, Brandon Kelger to make it 4-1. On Saturday, #18 Nick Guiney finished off a nice #20 Tyler Welsh rebound to beat goalie Andrew Shortridge under his extended right pad after it looked like Shortridge had made the initial save. In the 3rd period, after a series of slick passes from #26 Mitchell Barker and #12 PJ Conlon, picking up the puck was #14 Cole Pickup who split the D after Conlon's long lead pass and went in on a breakaway and scored on his own rebound. On Sunday vs the West Kelowna Warriors #22 Brayden Gelsinger scored his 2nd of the year off a perfect Livingtone backhand pass during a harmless looking 2 on 3 rush. The final goal of the weekend was Barker's Shorthanded goal off an innocuous long range wrister after crossing the blue line. Conlon would be robbed of an assist, even though he clearly won the draw to the escaping Barker.
The Grizzlies play three games in a row starting Thursday night when they travel up to The Frank Crane to take on the Clippers, game time 7pm. That will be followed at home with Powell River on Thursday and Friday with Cowichan Valley. Let's hope for an A. Talk to you Wednesday at The Frank. -CC