The Victoria Grizzlies are coming to Sooke.
SEAPARC Arena plays host to the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) team’s final preseason game, Sept. 13 against the Cowichan Capitals. Despite it being an exhibition, the Grizzlies will be bringing their game faces to the rink against a heated rival.
“This is our last pre-season game before everything gets started, so we are pretty excited,” said Grizzlies head coach and general manager Brad Knight. “That game will feature our (full) roster, so the fans that are going to pay for tickets are going to watch the players that are going to play. They will get the best.”
Knight took over on the bench from Craig Didmon, who left the team in the off-season after the Grizzlies were eliminated with a crushing triple-overtime defeat to the Coquitlam Express in the third round of last year’s playoffs.
Knight said coming to Sooke has been on his radar for some time.
“It’s been a couple of years since we have been out there, but it is an area where we get fans from, we see lots of fans coming from Sooke,” he said. “We’ll try to bring our game and the way we play to some of our fans and show them some appreciation.”
Game day features a tailgate party and barbecue at 1 p.m. prior to the 4 p.m. start. All money collected from admissions and fundraisers, including a 50/50 draw and a fastest shot competition, go to Sooke Rotary Club and Sooke Minor Hockey.
Grizzlies forward Cole Pickup said being a part of events like this are an important part of being a player.
“I can’t thank the community enough for what they’ve done for this organization and myself,” he said. “They have always been behind us, no matter how tough the times have been. Anything we can help the community with, it feels awesome to help.”
Come the start of the season, however, the bitter taste of last year’s loss will be on his mind, as he looks forward to having a strong year and a chance at redemption.
“This year is a new year with a lot of new faces and a lot of new staff, so we’re excited and we’re not going for anything but the best,” the Colwood resident said. “No matter if it’s an exhibition game, we want to beat Cowichan. We hate those guys, so no matter what, we will be giving ’er 100 per cent.”