Thursday, 25 February 2016

Nick Jermain and Boston Bar: Improbable Grizzlies Destiny in 2016

In spite of starting the year with a record of 1-10 when this Grizzlies season is finally all over and sports writers sit down to dissect the year, I doubt many will remember the name Nick Jermain. The fact is that this Merritt Centennials forward might just go down as one of the most significant opposition players to have positively impacted a Grizzlies season in quite some time.  Few as well will remember a broken drive shaft bearing under the Grizzlies bus in Boston Bar, BC on a snowy Saturday night in January, but that too could prove to be of equal significance in a year which never ceases to amaze this writer.
Last Saturday night as the Grizzlies were travelling over the Coquihalla Connector after losing 5-0 to the Penticton Vees, Connecticut born Nick Jermain was busy just a few kilometers away as his Centennials trailed the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs late in the 3rd period by a score of 2-1.  Had the score stood up, the Bulldogs would have overtaken the Grizzlies in the standings that night and taken over that 4th and final playoff spot.  It was a massive moment for the Grizzlies and yet few if any Victoria fans had much knowledge of the name Nick Jermain.  With less than two minutes to play, it would be Jermain who would score for the Centennials with his team's net empty in favour of the extra attacker and force overtime.  Then, just moments into the first OT period Jermain would score again, denying the Bulldogs that vital second point of the night.  Alberni would remain tied in points with the Grizzlies at the conclusion of play on what to most would view as just another day in the regular season.  For Grizzlies fans, the moment was simply enormous.

                                         GP  W  L OTL
 PTS  GF      GA    DIFF   PCT
1xy - Nanaimo Clippers5636181
2x - Powell River Kings5532193
3x - Cowichan Valley Capitals5627233
4Alberni Valley Bulldogs5621274
5Victoria Grizzlies5623294
(*even the league's web site shows the Grizzlies in 5th spot in the Island Division Standings which are so tight and confusing even BCHL computers can't get the tie-break formula straight.)

The Grizzlies now enter play in this final weekend of regular season action tied with Alberni Valley in points.  However the Grizz still enjoy the razor thin advantage of the first tie breaker by virtue of having won more games than the Bulldogs on the season.  Had the aforementioned Jermain not scored late in that 3rd period, the Grizzlies would now trail the Dogs by a single point and no longer be in a position to control their own destiny.  Perhaps at no time in franchise history have the Grizzlies ever been involved in such a dramatic and potentially cataclysmic conclusion of a regular season.  With precisely two games left to play for each organization, the Grizzlies and the Bulldogs will each try and play their way into the 2015/16 BCHL playoffs with the winning prize being a first round matchup against the offensive powerhouse, Nanaimo Clippers.  To some that may seem like quite the underwhelming prize for such a daunting task, but for a Grizzlies team who essentially started the year with a single win in its first 11 games, that will probably suit them just fine.  Call it fate, but it’s just been that kind of a year.
This final chapter will all get underway on Friday night as the Grizzlies will host the Powell River Kings, a team with whom the Grizzlies have enjoyed some relative success thus far in 2015/16 with a 5-2 season series lead.  Powell River, secure in 2nd place and with nothing to play for in terms of playoff position, will come to Vancouver Island with the ability to play the role of either “Spoiler” or “King Maker” for the Grizzlies or the Bulldogs.   The Kings will finish the weekend with two contests in Alberni Valley at the Weyerhaeuser Arena on Saturday and Sunday after they play the Grizzlies Friday night at The Q Centre.  The Grizzlies will travel to Chilliwack on Sunday to play a Chiefs team who have also secured their playoff fortunes and have nothing to play for other than perhaps a little momentum in preparation for a First Round matchup against the Coquitlam Express.  But that 4pm Sunday Chilliwack game if you remember, is only happening as the very last game in the entire league by virtue of a broken bus in Boston Bar.  The Grizzlies were scheduled to play the Chiefs that night, 16 Jan if you recall.  With half the team sick with the flu, plus a few nagging bumps and bruises and coming off the longest day of bus travel in the year after departing Prince George the night before, I for one did not like the Grizzlies chances.  Remember that they lost the previous encounter against the Chiefs in the Bauer Showcase in September by a 4-0 margin.  But as luck would have it, the Grizzlies bus for the first time in franchise history would fail to deliver the team to its game night destination and the game would have to be rescheduled.  We will never know but maybe, just maybe that was a blessing in disguise that broken drive train, that broken bearing.
Grizzlies minority owner Mark Wagstaff does not visit the broadcast booth very often, certainly not on the road.  But the following day in Surrey he popped in to the booth during pregame and told me something which I will likely never forget:  “You know, what’s so strange about that broken bus last night?  In all those years that I owned Penticton, the Salsa and the Grizzlies, not one time in over 25 years had any of those teams ever failed to make it to a road game.  Not one time did we ever have to cancel a game.  Not even once, very strange.”   Very strange indeed.  That game could prove to mean absolutely nothing, or it could turn out to be a very useful insurance policy for the Grizzlies come 4pm this Sunday afternoon if things don’t go perfectly on Friday and Saturday.  Is that fate, luck or destiny?  Or is it just a bad episode of Twilight Zone?   
The Grizzlies “Magic Number” now sits at just 2.  Any combination of a Grizzlies win and a Bulldogs loss will send Victoria into the playoffs.  But the Bulldogs’ “Magic Number” sits at 2.5 games.  Thank you Nick Jermain and thank you broken bus.  If the Bulldogs lose both games to Powell River this weekend, that too will achieve the “Magic Number” of 2 no matter what the Grizzlies do.  I said three weeks ago, just prior to the Cowichan Valley game that in order to qualify for the post season, the Grizzlies would need to win 3 of its final 6 games or play exactly .500 hockey and that prediction looks like it may run true to form. 

With a crescendo of 4 goals in Period #1 last Sunday vs Langley, the Grizzlies held serve in the Island Division standings and got that second vital win of its six remaining games.  The first goal in Langley came by way of The Plumbers.  Crashing the net hard was Joey Visconti, after a Spencer Hunter rush, Visconti put away a goal mouth loose puck and gave the Grizzlies the early lead.  Then it was up to Keyvan Mokhtari who buried a Brayden Gelsinger rebound top shelf to make it 2-0.  It was the young rookie’s first goal since 17 Dec, 2015 but none of that mattered to a Grizzlies bench which erupted in adoration of the BWC product who was helping his teammates see their playoff hopes suddenly restored.  The next Grizzlie goal would come by way of the extra man on a perfectly timed Ovechkin like one-timer by Dante Hahn from an equally beautiful cross-crease pass by Gelsinger.  It was Hahn’s 3rd PP Goal of the season and it put the Grizzlies up 3-0, all in a weekend devoid of much offense where the Grizzlies had failed to score against Penticton on Saturday night and in a 2-1 loss to Wenatchee on Friday. 

The massive Sunday first period onslaught by Victoria would end with Nathan Looysen of the VIJHL Victoria Cougars, scoring his first goal of the season in a Grizzlies uniform and the rout was on.  Looysen, who won the VIJHL Scoring Championship this year with 101 points, looked fantastic all weekend in Grizzlies white, black and yellow-gold and took his goal well having already picked up an assist on Hahn’s PP marker earlier in the period.  Mitchell Benson would turn away all 24 Rivermen shots and collect his first shutout and fifth win of the season in front of a disappointed Langley crowd of 1,358.  Benson was solid all night and will likely feature in the backup role to Matt Galajda this weekend as the Grizzlies attempt to ice out the 2015/16 regular season and earn that final playoff spot on the island. 
The regular season will end at Prospera Centre by virtue of the Grizzlies first ever cancelled game on 16 Jan, 2016
Four games, two for the Bulldogs and two for the Grizzlies and three of which will feature perennial playoff matchup team the Powell River Kings are all that separate an early end to the season or a trip to the big dance.  Call it what you like, crazy, ridiculous and unnecessary or just plain exiting.  No matter what, there won’t be a single true Grizzlies fan anywhere on the globe this weekend who won’t be paying close attention to every second of action in this most tumultuous of final games for the club.  And if the Grizzlies eventually do indeed qualify for the playoffs, likely few will ever remember those strange quirky moments which could end up deciding the team’s fate.   It just may be that the way this season will finish could come down to a couple of very late out of town goals on a Saturday night in the smallest building in the BCHL, the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt BC, with goals scored by a Connecticut hockey player named Nick Jermain.  Well that and a troublesome bearing under a team bus in a little place called Boston Bar.  Talk to you all on Friday night from the Q Centre. -CC        

Monday, 15 February 2016

A Titanic Season If There Ever Was One: 2016 Grizzlies

To say that this past weekend was a bit of a rough one for the Victoria Grizzlies would be a massive understatement.  Facing the #5 Interior Division, Merritt Centennials on Saturday night and the #1 Mainland Division, Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, the Grizzlies came away with nothing but two more losses on the weekend's action.  They now sit in a tie at 46 points for the final playoff spot in the Island Division with Alberni Valley after a Bulldogs win on Sunday.  Yes times are certainly tough at the moment.  The good news is that now the club only has to worry about preparing for its unquestionable toughest road trip of the entire season: Cowichan Valley, Wenatchee, Penticton and Langley.

#2 Chuck Bennis wasn't the only Grizzly who had his hands full on Sunday afternoon vs The Chiefs
I have been asked by many of you in the last several days about what my thoughts are about this now season high 7 game losing streak.  Every time I start to form a thought about it all I can see is that notoriously famous image of Joe Namath on the sidelines of that Monday Night Football Game with Suzy Kolber many years ago.  "Suzy, the Jets are struuugellllling."

Joe Namath's famous moment with Suzy Kolber on MNF
Poor Suzy.  I always felt so bad for her in that interview.  But she handled it like the true pro that she is and Namath soon got sober and it all worked out in the end, but I digress.

You know I had more than a few conversations over the weekend with some hockey people around the league about the Grizzlies.  Let's just call them "unnamed BCHL sources" and leave it at that.  As I was trying to map out the current situation as I see with the Grizzlies, I kept going back to the RMS Titanic.  Yeah, that's right, the Titanic, the Royal Mail Ship Titanic.

A long series of errors was all it took to send Titanic to the bottom in April of 1912
Don't worry my metaphor confused the hell out of everyone else, you're not alone.

Believe it or not, many years ago I used to be a card carrying member of get this:  The Titanic Historical Society.  I am sure that they still exits somewhere and I don't have either the time nor the inclination to Google them at the moment.  But back in 1981, I was very proud to have had this little card in the sleeve of my wallet with my name on it.  The card read "Titanic Historical Society, Chicago Illinois".  Truth be told, I am only about 90% sure that they were out of Chicago but I don't really think that its all that important to my story.

For the past week or so now I have been noticing all these little things that the Grizzlies are not doing quite so well.  Sometimes its a big thing, like a bad penalty or sometimes its something small and subtle like a shift which went on just a bit too long.  It might be an injury or a mental lapse. Sometimes its something which happens on the ice.  Sometimes its something off the ice.  Sometimes its something I sense on the road or maybe something I see around the Q Centre.  It doesn't really matter, but I can see it.  I have even seen a few things in the Broadcast Booth that Yours Truly would like to do over again, if I am being honest.

It will take more than just #12 PJ Conlon scoring in 6 of his last 10 games to secure the Grizzlies a playoff spot
Do you know why almost 1,500 people died one night in April of 1912 in the frigid waters off of Newfoundland in the worst maritime disaster in history?  It wasn't just because of an iceberg.  It wasn't just because Fredrick Fleet up in the Crows Nest that night arrived on watch to discover that there were no binoculars for the lookouts to see approaching ice.  It wasn't just because Captain Smith (under great but subtle pressure from his bosses who were onboard) ordered that ship travel at top speed in an area know to have ice just so that a speed record to New York could be set.  No it wasn't just that boastful desire to provide The White Star Line with newspaper headlines to please its shareholders which killed all those passengers and crew.

Those people on the Titanic didn't lose their lives just because her builders, Harland and Wolff had failed to place the vertical bulkheads high enough to stop water from spilling aft should the forward part of the hull be breached.  It wasn't just the rivets from Belfast which were made of a cheaper steel to increase the profit margin in the great ship's construction.  Those people didn't die that night just because she didn't have enough lifeboats either.  And perhaps most tragic of all, it wasn't because a nearby ship, the SS Californian, who was in visual sight of Titanic as she slowly sank, had turned off her Morse Code radios for the night because the regulations in those days permitted such lunacy.

Passing ships mistakenly thought Titanic's distress flares were mere company signals and paid no attention as disaster loomed in the still and frigid waters of the North Atlantic
No, sadly the tragic lesson of the Titanic was that it took all of those things and many more to conspire to sink that great ship and send all those poor souls to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  You see, it wasn't just the one thing that went wrong that night.  It was a little bit of all those things.

And that's where the Grizzlies are at the moment.  They are a club who are struggling through a very tough slump to be sure, the worst stretch in many years and one which could cost the team a spot in the BCHL Playoffs.  In my humble view, the Grizzlies are dealing with a whole bunch of little things quite frankly, none of which are going right at the moment.

Whatever the issues are, the answers are in that organization, not just the Dressing Room.  A 7 game winning streak in January is proof that the ability to win is still very much in place.  But everyone and I do mean everyone, over these final six games will need to pull a little harder and do his or her job just a little better than they did yesterday.  We are each going to have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and simply get on with it pure and simple.  And that includes me too by the way.

I like that line from that Stanley Kubrick 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket.  "Yep, this is one big sh#t sandwich and we're all gonna have to take a bite."
Actor R. Lee Ermey, a former USMC Drill Instructor, ad libbed most of his lines in Kubrick's classic tale of Vietnam   
So I hope that you will all follow along in this final chapter of the Regular Season as the Grizzlies fight for their very playoff lives.  I will certainly do my part to keep you appraised of how it goes.  My sense is that the Grizzlies will find a way to make sure that Fredrick Fleet has a good pair of binoculars before he goes on watch. I also think that the Captain will exercise good judgement as he negotiates his hockey club through a treacherous ice field on a moonless night, without even so much as a breath of air.

And when the whole tumultuous season is over, no matter what happens, I think I might just look up that group of geeky Titanic enthusiasts with whom I used to swap stories with way back in the day. I wonder if they will charge me very much for a membership card which I suspect is very much in arrears?  Until then I will talk to you tomorrow night from "The Stick" in Cowichan.  -CC

Friday, 12 February 2016

Win 3 & Let The Others Be

Before I start this week's blog, I would like to take a moment and commemorate the life of Al Gillies, the Victoria Grizzlies long time Equipment and Stick/Skate repairman Extraordinaire.  I just learned only moments after posting this blog of Al's passing and I have added this piece just now.  Last Friday on the team's trip up to Port Alberni, as we passed Al's house near Spencer Road at exactly this very hour, our Bus Driver honked twice to say hello to Big Al and I know I said a quite prayer for Al along with those on the bus.  Al was a kind, smart and savy equipment man and he was an even better human being and friend to all of us here in the Victoria Grizzlies.  We love you Al and you will be missed.  God Bless you and your family in these difficult times, our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

 Win 3 & Let The Others Be

I always love a good race.  Whether its the Kentucky Derby, the Daytona 500 or yes, even this year's US Presidential Primary Elections, I just love watching a good race.  This year's Island Division playoff run is no exception.  With that said, this year's race is becoming less clear every day.  I will admit though that it is by far more interesting than anything going on in the other two divisions, so maybe we should count ourselves lucky.  What's weird though, at least for the moment, is that just about everybody in this race is losing.  And I do mean everybody.

In a post New Hampshire presser on Tuesday, Trump reacts badly to news of the Grizzlies 4-1 loss to the Kings
Unless your team is the Powell River Kings or the Nanaimo Clippers, you just aren't winning very many games in the run up to the BCHL playoffs in the Island Division.  Conveniently the Grizzlies have managed to have timed their current 5 game losing streak just as the very two teams with whom they are in contact are also suddenly losing.  In the span of the past week, the Grizzlies (0-2) along with the Cowichan Valley Capitals (0-2) and Alberni Valley Bulldogs (0-2) have combined for exactly 0 points between all three clubs.  And that's good news to Grizzlies fans.

Strong goaltending and D will be huge keys to the Grizzlies playoff chances
You have to start asking yourself, does anybody want to win this thing or what?  The fact is that the Grizzlies believe it or not, once again control their own destiny.

With a game in hand now and 2 more wins than Alberni on the season, the math ever so slightly favours the Grizzlies.  Victoria's 4-1 loss at a packed Hap Parker Arena on BC Family Day on Monday was but the latest installment in the longest skid since the start of the season.  The good news is that the team played pretty well after a long day on the road.  It was a brutal day of travel, 17 hours in total and a road trip which even featured a car accident in the Courtney White Spot parking lot to boot.  Apparently an elderly female driver who thankfully escaped without injuries was hoping to create a Drive Thru Window at the Courtney restaurant with her green SUV as the Grizzlies awaited their pre-game breakfast.  What else is new when you travel to "The Rock"?

Its just not a trip to "The Hap" without some sort of drama
Brett Stirling was back in the lineup, along with rookie phenom Tyler Welsh.  Both men were likely not yet 100%, but were able to make up for that with a lot of skill and determination. The goaltending was also pretty solid.  The Grizzlies did connect on the PP in the First Period with PJ Conlon collecting his 20th of the year.  The bad news is that the Grizzlies were once again outshot, this time by a count of 36-30.  It marked the 7th straight game in which the Grizzlies were outshot.  It is a trend the club really needs to break and soon.

The newly designed "Drive Thru" window at the Courtney White Spot
If anybody asked me (and nobody does BTW) I would map out the road to the playoffs for the Grizzlies by suggesting the following simple strategy.  With 8 games to play, call up some APs to rest up anybody who needs a break and not risk further injuries.  But at the same time pick 3 specific matchups which you think you can really win and do everything in your power to win those games.  In other words, play those three target games like they were playoff matchups and win them all.  As for the other 5 matchups, consider them all bonus games.  I call the strategy: "Win 3 & Let The Others Be".

If the Grizzlies can manage to win just 3 of their remaining 8 games, it will force the AV Bulldogs to win 4 of their last 7 games and also demand that the Bulldogs collect an extra point from an OT game in there somehow.  Basically that math would ask the Bulldogs to earn points in 5 of their final 7 games, essentially 9 points in total out of those remaining 7 games.  In spite of a softer February schedule, that could be a very hard task for a Bulldogs team who finish the year with two games at home vs Powell River.

Can #22 Gelsinger with the best snap shot on the club stay hot down the stretch?
This approach will allow the team to get healthy just in time for the playoffs while still remaining competitive.   It will also realistically manage expectations in the face of some pretty daunting opposition down the stretch including two remaining games vs Chilliwack and road games in Wenatchee, Penticton, Langley and Cowichan still on the ledger.

It all starts this weekend for the Grizzlies who will host Merritt on Saturday night and Chilliwack on Sunday in their ultra cool retro 1990's Victoria Salsa jerseys.  Hopefully, Merritt could prove to be Win #1 out of the three victories which I believe the club needs in order to ensure a playoff spot. Alberni will host Salmon Arm on Saturday and Merritt on Sunday.  There will be scoreboard watching a plenty in Victoria over the weekend, that is for sure.  No matter what happens, I can promise you one thing, its going to be entertaining.  See you all this weekend at The Q. - CC

Saturday, 6 February 2016

A Plan Is Only a Plan, Grizzlies Hit a Wall

Years ago when I was overseas in the Zhari-Panjway I heard this thing I never forgot.  At the end of a briefing concerning an upcoming offensive, the senior officer commanding the whole thing looked at us and said: "Now let's remember here folks, we all know that a plan is only a plan until first contact with the enemy, OK?  Remember that the enemy also gets a vote in how this whole thing rolls out, so let's stay focussed on the task at hand."

The enemy sure has had a vote in how things have been going for Victoria Grizzlies over the last while.  In the span of just a single week, the Grizzlies have suddenly and rather dramatically lost 4 straight games.  But it gets worse.

The Grizzlies have lost half of the club's No. 1 defensive pairing in Brett Stirling to what looks to be a fairly serious injury.  They have suffered serious injuries to upstart rookie forward, Tyler Welsh and veteran Centre Mitchell Barker as well.  For two games due to suspension, they lost the services of 6'3'' D-Man, Kevin Massy.  Meanwhile Captain PJ Conlon, who now looks a bit like Count Choclua, is sporting a bubble mask due to a Clippers high stick on Sunday which resulted only in a two minute minor.  And while he won't get any of his teeth back, he is forced to play the game in constant pain and with limited vision. There are other players with a raft of issues.  At least one is presently having severe difficulty in shooting the puck.  
In the 1970s we used to give kids pure sugar for breakfast.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the team is suddenly allowing the most SOG for its two rookie 18 year old goalies to deal with each night. Frankly, that's not going so well either if you catch my drift.

And that sums up for me what we seem to have forgotten during the club's 7-0 start to 2016.  The enemy also get a say in how this whole thing rolls out.

Just 24 hours after the biggest win of the season in Nanaimo on Friday, the Grizzlies were simply not ready to host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and were quickly defeated 6-3 in front of a speechless crowd at the Q Centre.  Shots were 41-19 for AV.  With no Kevin Massy it wasn't even close and the Grizzlies were man handled by the Bulldogs.  Then, late in the 3rd, Brett Stirling went down in the south end of the arena and you were thinking, "Oh God not Sterling, not now."

Then on Sunday afternoon, without the services of Barker and Welsh, it got worse when Nanaimo rolled back into Colwood and promptly reminded Victoria fans why Sheldon Rempal is the best 20 year old in the BCHL. Suddenly the Grizzlies were on a two game slide since their improbable January run.  The game ended 7-2 and the Grizzlies were outshot 44-30 by the Clips.

Jared Virtanen now wearing #19 jersey in Salsa retro jerseys in the 7-5 loss to the Vees on Thursday
But the moment which said it all was Thursday night vs mighty The Penticton Vees on Salsa Jersey night.  After assuming the risk of travelling on the same day as a game, the Penticton Vees rolled into the Q Centre and proceeded to surrender the puck for two periods straight to seemingly every Grizzlies player who was fit enough to play in the contest.  Five straight unanswered 1st and 2nd period goals to Brayden Gelsinger (2), Braeden Cross, Cole Pickup and Alex Peck saw the Grizzlies enjoying a commanding 5-1 lead over the Penticton Vees.  At that point you were suddenly thinking that the Grizzlies were about to defeat the top Junior A team in North America.  It was the loudest I have heard the Q Centre since Game 7 in the 2014 Playoffs vs Alberni Valley.

I suspect that Fred Harbinson, (Vess Head Coach) may have been suddenly remembering indeed that the enemy has a vote in how this whole thing was to roll out.  Well it didn't take him long to remember that philosophy and by pulling his goalie late in the second period on the PP, the Vees struck and it was suddenly 5-2 over a very wobbly Grizzlies team.  You could have heard a pin drop.

In the 3rd period the Grizzlies were outshot 23-4 in the most lopsided period of hockey the team has suffered in several years.  A fan said to me after the game that it was like watching a train wreck, you didn't want to look but you could not help but stare in amazement at two hockey teams going in totally different directions.  On the one hand you had the injury depleted Grizzlies up 5-1 and trying valiantly to hang on to a large lead.  On the other bench though you had two future NHL First Round Draft Picks, Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro who were frothing at the mouth every time Victoria made a mistake.  The game would end 7-5 for the Vees.  The Grizzlies after being outshot this time 47-33 were less than 24 hours away from facing Alberni Valley with equal froth spewing from the mouths of the Bulldogs at the prospect of playing such a wounded team in the Grizzlies.

And last night, you could almost feel it after the first goal with that Hudson Bay Train locomotive whistle blowing all the way to Bamfield on a Garrett Halls marker just 4 minutes into the contest.  It just wasn't going to be the Grizzlies night.  Outshot 35-24 this time, the Grizzlies really could not mount much of a fight and the Bulldogs skated away with a 4-2 win.  More importantly, they now sit just two points short of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Island Division.  With the tie break formula favoring the Bulldogs, a win tonight vs Penticton would vault the Bulldogs back into a tie for 4th spot overall. They would then need only another singular win in their remaining final 8 to take the final spot in the playoffs should both teams finish even in wins.  And this has all transpired in less that 7 full days time.  It is quite unbelievable. 

At the risk of crying over spilled milk, had the Grizzlies beaten the Bulldogs last Saturday, they would have extended their lead to 10 points on AV.  It would have put the proverbial nail in coffin for the Bulldogs' playoff chances.  Alberni's season would have been effectively over.  Now the Grizzlies will scoreboard watch and pray that the NHL Draft replete Vees can hand the Bulldogs a loss tonight in their final regular season visit to Vancouver Island.  Hopefully the Bulldogs enemy will get a big vote in this contest.

So now the Grizzlies will rest up, heal, likely watch Superbowl 50 and go to bed early on Sunday night.  Because when they board the 6am bus on Monday morning to head off to "The Rock" to face the nearly impossible to beat at home Powell River Kings, they will want to have a say in what is certainly a must win for this suddenly shaken club from Victoria.  I will look forward to talking to you at 2pm Monday from The Hap Parker in a game which could very well tell the tale of the tape for the Grizzlies playoff plans for 2016. -CC