Backup goaltender Tony Rehm saw action for the Victoria Grizzlies last weekend against Alberni Valley

Grizzlies, Clippers begin season series late

B.C. Hockey League rivals at opposite ends of standings so far this season

The Victoria Grizzlies and Nanaimo Clippers have long had an intense rivalry in the B.C. Hockey League.

Is it comparable to Vancouver-Calgary or Montreal-Boston in the NHL? That might be a stretch, but between the two teams they’ve won the past four Island Division titles and before that, enough bad blood was spilled to keep the intensity going for years to come.

This season the Grizzlies have the upper hand in the standings, but the Clippers, who host the Grizz tonight (Nov. 25) at Frank Crane Arena, are always tough to play at home, said Victoria head coach Craig Didmon.

“We know its going to be a hostile environment,” he said of the Nanaimo fans. “The Clippers have that little bit of extra bravado when they play in that building.”

The teams return for the rematch Saturday night in Colwood at The Q Centre, starting at 7 p.m.

Amazingly, this weekend marks the first regular season meetings between the teams this year. Despite the Clippers’ modest record (11-12-3-1, fourth place) and the fact they’re a young team, Didmon isn’t underestimating them.

“I always see them as a strength in our Island Division; you never take them for granted,” he said. “If you look at them over the course of the past 10 games, they keep getting better and better. They’re a good, hard-working club and they play four lines. They play a tight system and we’ll have to have  tight systems play to beat them.”

Led by rookie Ben Solin, one of six first-year players in the team’s top 10 scorers, the Clippers can be unpredictable, Didmon said. He points to the fact coach Mike Vandekamp put five forwards out on the power play recently. “That’s a little scary, so we’re going to try and shut down their power play.”

To this point, the numbers there favour the Grizzlies. Heading into this weekend, Victoria had the best penalty killing percentage in the BCHL (86.1 per cent), while the Clippers were second-worst on the power play (14.7 per cent).

“We want them to have to make adjustments to us and (react to) our system,” Didmon said. “They shouldn’t know too much of what to expect.”

The Grizzlies will be glad to have Cole Pickup back at full speed against the Clippers. Victoria’s leading scorer sat out four games for a blow to the head penalty against Vernon earlier this month and was kept off the scoresheet in his return Sunday, a 2-1 home loss to Trail.

Rookie forward Cory Hatcher, who has five goals in 10 games this season but hasn’t played since Oct. 14, may return this weekend from an upper body injury.


Just Posted

Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Several Vancouver Island facilities wait times notably poor

Search underway as Our Place Society CEO Don Evans resigns

‘It’s time for me to take a break to recharge my batteries’

Victoria shuttle service aims to use cruise ship waste as fuel

Pacific Northwest Transportation Services wants to have a zero emission fleet by 2026

More clouds, showers ahead for Wednesday

Plus a look ahead at the weekend’s forecast

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read