Grizzlies forward Keyvan Mokhtari (9) battles with a pair of Nanaimo Clippers during Victoria’s 4-1 exhibition win at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke on Sept. 3. The Grizzlies wrapped up their pre-season schedule with a perfect 6-0 record. They’ll drop the puck on the regular season tonight at The Q Centre against the Power River Kings.

Victoria Grizzlies prepared for BCHL opener

After a perfect pre-season, the Grizzlies will open their BCHL campaign against the Power River Kings tonight at The Q Centre in Colwood.

The Victoria Grizzlies have yet to lose, but they’re fully aware their pre-season achievements won’t mean anything when the puck drops on the regular season tonight (Sept. 9) against the Powell River Kings.

“We’re still in last place alphabetically,” joked Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon.

He did note that the excellent pre-season was a welcome change from last year, when the club stumbled to a 1-5 record, struggles which carried over into the regular season. “It certainly gives us an indication that our feet are a little more secure entering the season,” he said.

Newly minted captain Cody Van Lierop agreed with his coach’s sentiments, noting that teams don’t usually play their full lineups during the exhibition season and that the Grizzlies will need to be ready for a strong Powell River team in the opener.

Van Lierop was one of two obvious candidates for the captaincy, along with veteran forward Cole Pickup.

“It was a tough one, because they’re both really captains in the room and on the ice as well,” Didmon said. Didmon and his coaching staff chose to go with Van Lierop for his ability to “keep an even keel” and not “get too high or too low.”

The 20-year-old defenceman, entering his third season with the club, expects to lead by example. He learned it’s a captain’s job “not to get too emotional” from watching the Grizzlies’ previous leaders, Dane Gibson and P.J. Conlon.

Pickup and Tyler Welsh will be full-time alternate captains while defencemen Jake Stevens and Bret Stirling will share the third ‘A.’

The strength of the Grizzlies appears to lie in their own zone, with Van Lierop at the heart of a defence core that returns four players from a year ago. Goaltender Matthew Galajda, who recently committed to play college hockey at Cornell University next season, should be among the leaders in the BCHL once again this year.

Up front, the bulk of the Grizzlies’ scoring hopes will rest on the shoulders of Pickup and his linemates Nathan Looysen and Tyler Welsh.

“I’m excited for Pickup’s line … they looked great in pre-season,” Didmon said. “They can all shoot the puck, they’re all good playmakers and they’re all physical and win battles.”

Lucas Clark will centre Keyvan Mokhtari and Jamie Rome on a line that promises to have a good combination of power and speed, while Sage Englund will be in the middle of a line that includes Nick Guiney and Justin Michaelian, that trio having showed a lot of chemistry according to Didmon.

In a stark contrast to last season, where the Grizzlies had to wait for the Victoria Shamrocks to play out the Mann Cup before settling into their home at The Q Centre, Victoria will open with four of its first five games on home ice.

Didmon prefers this home-heavy schedule to last year’s scenario, which saw the club play its entire first month of games on the road.

“Let’s get good in our barn now … let’s get to know this place and be a very good team at home,” he said.

The puck will drop on the Grizzlies’ 2016-17 campaign at 7 p.m. against the Kings. They’ll take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs tomorrow night at The Q Centre at the same start time, before travelling to Duncan on Tuesday for a date with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. For more information about the team, visit

Just Posted

Poutine With Purpose Pub Crawl supports local charity

Enjoy a pub favourite while helping to feed local kids

Cloudy skies ahead for Thursday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Hundreds gather at fundraising kickoff for ‘Kings Park’ purchase

Campaign to raise $2.75 million for the District of Saanich underway

Spooky meets retro at the Victoria Vintage Halloween Fair

It’s never to early to start planning your costume

Flat tire, kindness of strangers, surprisingly inflate hope

Sooke mom and her daughters knocked on door of Bob and Norma Saunders seeking help

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

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

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read