With only two games between them and the playoffs, the Revelstoke Grizzlies were just hoping to survive the weekend.
Having secured home ice advantage against all the teams in the KIJHL except the Kimberley Dynamiters by clinching the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference (and second overall in the league), Revelstoke coach Ryan Parent said the team just wanted to play a solid two games.
“At this time of year, you just want to play good hockey,” he said. “We were happy just to get through the weekend.”
The Grizzlies faced two tough opponents. On Friday night, they downed the Osoyoos Coyotes 10-4.
“I think that was an all-around good game,” said Parent. “We knew they were one of the top teams in the Okanagan Conference so we wanted to be good against them.”
Revelstoke had eight different players score goals Friday night.
Goalie Giovanni Sambrielaz logged his 23rd win of the season, earning him a nod as the second-most winningest goalie in the KIJHL this year behind the Kimberley Dynamiters’ Cody Campbell, who had 25 wins.
Saturday night, with a crowd of 900 in attendance, the momentum swung in the visitors’ favour.
RELATED: Hockey Day in Revelstoke events celebrate Aaron Volpatti
The Summerland Steam needed a win if they wanted a shot at home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Kelowna Chiefs.
As part of Hockey Day in Revelstoke events, there was a pre-game ceremony to honour the achivements and retire the #19 jersey of former Grizzly and retired NHL player Aaron Volpatti.
The Steam got on the board early, getting the puck past Revelstoke’s Liam McGarva within the first minute of play. Near the end of the first period, Revelstoke’s Jacob Bourchier received a two-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct, opening the gates for the visitors to add a second goal on the power play with 1:44 left on the clock.
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The second period was full of back-and-forth action, but ended scoreless.
Cody Flann, Grizzly Rookie of the Year, got the home team on the board just over two minutes into the third, tapping it past a sprawled out Maxim Sidelnik with Matt Cadden and Evan Simpson picking up the assists.
About five minutes into the frame, the Grizzlies put the puck in the net, but the tying goal was quickly waved off.
Summerland then pushed the pace, picking up a power play goal to put them ahead 3-2 with Jordan Rea in the box for tripping.
The Steam added two short-handed goals early in the second half of the period, capitalizing on a defenceman’s bobble and a goalie mistake making it 5-2.
Revelstoke picked up one last goal on the powerplay, with David Lenzin scoring off an assist from Dylan McNeil and Ryan Pereverzoff.
Summerland scored its last goal with 4:10 remaining in the third to make the final score 6-2.
Steam assistant coach Carter Rigby said the game was a good confidence-booster for the team, which has been struggling with consistency since Christmas.
“It’s a big win. Obviously coming here, they’re the top team out here, so it’s just confidence,” he said. “It’s good to get some confidence in the guys going into playoffs on a good win.”
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Summerland may be going into the first round with some momentum, but they won’t have home ice advantage. They finished third in their division, one point behind Kelowna in the standings.
Grizzlies head coach Parent was unfazed by the loss.
“For us, that was a nothing game,” he said, noting that the Grizzlies have already clinched home ice advantage. “We wanted to play good hockey. For me it was getting through the game with no suspensions and no injuries. That was the main objective of that game.”
And in that, they succeeded.
Ullar Wiatzka’s suspension, stemming from a game misconduct in the last 10 minutes of Feb. 16th’s game against Osoyoos, will be up and he’ll be eligible to skate Friday.
Clark Nelson, out since that game against Osoyoos, will be eligible to play on Feb. 26.
For Parent, the season will really start Friday night, when the Grizzlies face the Kamloops Storm for the first game of their best-of-seven playoff series.
“I think we’re going to have to be ready from puck drop,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a good, solid Kamloops team. Our record has been good against them all year, but the games have been close.”
Revelstoke has won their last four games against Kamloops.
The Grizzlies will host the first two games on Feb. 23 and 24 with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. at the Forum both nights. The series then moves to Kamloops for two games starting at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 and 27. Then, if needed games five and seven will be in Revelstoke.
“We will be ready,” said Parent. “We know that we have a strong opponent in round one.”