|1975 Cougar, a greenhouse gas, muscle car if there ever was one|
I remember sitting in the passenger seat after those Ottawa 67s games, unable to see over the massive front dash board of the great beast, but still able to hear my Dad's predictable question: "Well Clayton what did you think was the turning point tonight?" Back in those days, my answer was almost always something like, "I though Bobby Smith's 3rd period Power Play goal was really cool." (give me a break, I was 9). True story, Bobby Smith, who played for the Ottawa 67s from 1975-78 was actually a patient in my dad's medical practice at the time.
|Smith, played as a 20 year old in 77-78 winning the OHL Scoring Race|
|Bobby Smith's former doctor with grand kids & (Grandmom) long after the 75' Cougar|
|Smith in NHL, his goal celebrations were to skate back to Centre Ice|
The point of those conversations though, often centred, not on the 6'4'' stalwart 67s Centre, although my Dad often pointed out to me how "Bobby never celebrates beating an opponent", but on the importance of turning points and momentum in hockey games. I also learned that not very often, but occasionally, there is a play in a game, which not only turns a game around, but it can actually end up as a momentum changer which can turn around a whole season. Other than Coach Didmon's return behind the bench last December, I can't think of a singular on-ice moment which was a season changing moment. But I think that an actual on ice, season turning point may have actually occured at The Q Centre last Friday night.
With the Grizzlies on a 6 game losing streak and facing the Island Division leading Powell River Kings on Friday, nobody was worried about turning points; certainly not the Grizzlies who just needed a win. Trailing 2-1 after two periods, a four goal 3rd period explosion suddenly took place lead by Cole Pickup(4th), Chuck Bennis(2nd), Kevin Massy(3rd) and Keyvan Mokhtari(1st). The sudden offensive outburst not only ensured a victory against the top team in the BCHL at the time, but it may very well have turned around the expectations and outlook on an entire season.
|#5, Falconer, a Grizzlie Rookie Forward finding his game|
With just seconds ticking down in the 2nd period, with the Grizzlies trailing yet again in a hockey game, a mad scramble suddenly ensued in front of the home net. Powell River's Liam Lawson broke free of his check near the crease with a wide open net in front of him. After putting the puck on net, a quick thinking Keyvan Mokhtari, seemingly coming out of nowhere arrived in the crease and with the puck dribbling ever so close to the goal line, the young Grizzlies rookie batted the puck clear. The buzzer sounded. His defensive intervention, not only saved an obvious goal and kept the game to within reach for the third period, it might have saved the Grizzlies entire season.
|Every Grizzlie contributed to the 5-2 win over Kings on Friday|
Think about it. Had that puck gone in, both club's would have gone to their respective dressing rooms with the visitors up 3-1. It would also have been another of those dreaded buzzer beaters, pure momentum killers. With a Grizzlies team who at that point was averaging well under 2 goals/ game, the prospect of a comeback would have been slim. But with that innocuous goal line puck clearance by Mokhatari and the rest of his line mates, the Grizzlies made a statement. "Not tonight. Not on my watch".
It changed the whole game and I think it may end up changing the whole season.
The Grizzlies came out of that final intermission like men possessed. They moved the puck so quickly and they threw the body around so hard, the Kings never stood a chance. The Grizzlies would not quit. Two nights later they would show the same intensity, this time in a losing effort to another team vying for the Island Division title, the upstart Cowichan Valley Capitals. Disappointingly, the game would end in a 5-4 loss, but not before another rookie, this time #17 Joey Visconti would score a pair of goals, including his first of the season. Visconti's first was also the club's first short-handed goal of the campaign. In short, the Grizzlies would end up going 1-1 on the weekend but only after scoring a total of 9 goals. Amazingly, those 9 goals on the weekend represented almost half the number of goals they had scored in the previous 12 contests combined. The Grizzlies are scoring again. The team is finding its form and confidence. Best of all the rookies are contributing offensively just as the injured defensemen are beginning to return to the roster.
|Trivia Question: Which Grizzlie buried this season's 1st Shortie?|
Talk to you Friday night from Salmon Arm. -CC