The Victoria Grizzlies are ready.
Days away from the start of a brand new year, head coach and general manager Brad Knight said the Colwood-based team is already putting in the work for an opportunity to take another shot at the RBC Cup. It all starts with game one, he said.
“We have lots to learn as a group, from the coaching staff right down to the backup goaltender. But you know what, we are excited to get started,” Knight said. “That is the most important thing, we just want to get a stake in the ground and start our season.”
Knight, who replaced Craig Didmon who left the team for personal reasons, said despite a high turnover on the squad, the character of the personnel they have gathered will ensure the Grizzlies won’t be lacking for leadership.
“We brought in 15 captains or former captains, old, young and new. All of a sudden you have got guys who understand how a dressing room works. Everyone files in,” he said. “There are guys in our room, too, who don’t have a letter on their jersey but lead by example … I think we will be fine.”
Knight has no predictions for the season other than the Grizzlies will compete every night with a singular focus.
“We want to make the playoffs. There is a big dance at the end of the regular season and we just want a ticket so we can attend. We just want a chance. Once you’re in the post season (we) have the integrity and the workmanship to be successful.”
There are a lot of games to go before then. The season kicks off in Chilliwack this weekend with the third annual Bauer BCHL Showcase, a two-game tournament where players perform in front of hundreds of scouts from across the hockey world.
“Everyone is there – it’s an opportunity for us to introduce our league and introduce our roster to the teams and it’s a thrill, a great weekend, a real positive,” Knight said. “Kids get an opportunity to showcase themselves, get teams excited about their play and they come back jacked. The preseason helps because guys are coming in in better shape. All in all, it is a huge win.”
Third-year Grizzlies defenceman Mitch Meek, already sporting an inch-long gash along his left cheek, is extremely excited about starting the year and hopes his team surprises a few others en route to the playoffs.
“We have a great group of guys, great new coaches,” he said.
“It’s a great atmosphere right now, you’re always working hard. It’s a good atmosphere for sure. Our only goal is to win the RBC Cup so that is all we are looking forward to. We are going to surprise some people and we are going to be good this year.”
Come puck drop, Knight said, the Grizzlies will be ready to put on a good show for the fans with a team he said will be big, fast and loves to score.
“We are absolutely jacked … We have had such a hard camp and the kids have worked so hard. They can hardly wait to come here and play hockey and represent the West Shore.”