Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Victoria Grizzlies (24-14-3-2) at Wenatchee Wild (27-12-3-1)
7:05 p.m. at Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee
Presented by the BCIHL
This is the first of two meetings between Victoria and Wenatchee this season.
Victoria’s Jamie Rome comes into tonight riding a six-game point streak. He has two goals and seven assists for nine points over that stretch. His teammate Ethan Nother has points in four straight games, with a goal and seven assists in those contests. Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook is tied for second in BCHL scoring with 53 points (19-34-53) in 37 games. His 34 assists are tied for fourth most in the league. Matthew Doran and Dayne Finnson are tied for eighth in points by BCHL defencemen with 27. Their teammate Carter Berger also ranks in the top-20 in that category with 24 points. Victoria goaltender Zachary Rose has the fourth-best save percentage in the league at .922. He has a goals-against average of 2.91 with two shutouts in 24 appearances this season.
Wenatchee’s Jasper Weatherby is on a three-game point streak. He has four goals and three assists over that span. His teammates Sam Morton (2-4-6) and Zak Galambos (1-3-4) also have points in three straight games. Weatherby is the BCHL’s top scorer with 58 points (30-28-58) in 43 games and his 30 goals are second most in the league. Defenceman Cooper Zech is eighth in league scoring with 48 points (10-38-48) and ranks first among all blueliners in the BCHL. AJ Vanderbeck and Lucas Sowder are also in the top-20 in league scoring with 42 points each. Vanderbeck’s 22 goals are tied for third-most in the league. Wild goaltender Seth Eisele has the fifth-best goals-against average in the league at 2.44, while his three shutouts are second most in the league.
What’s at Stake
Victoria is in first place in the Island Division with 53 points, three ahead of the second-place Powell River Kings and four ahead of the third-place Nanaimo Clippers. The Grizzlies come into tonight unbeaten in their last 11 games and have outscored their opponents 58-26 over that stretch.
Wenatchee is in a battle with three other teams at the top of the Interior Division. They currently sit in second place with 58 points, five behind the league-leading Vernon Vipers, one ahead of the third-place Penticton Vees and two ahead of the fourth-place Trail Smoke Eaters. The Wild have the best winning percentage in the league at home this year and have a record of 16-3-1-0.
Victoria head coach Craig Didmon on facing Wenatchee tonight:
“They know how to score goals. They’ve got a lot of skill, they’ve got a mobile D…We’ve got to use our firepower and do our best to keep their top players in check, but really play out our gameplan so they have to adapt to us.”
Didmon on his team’s 11-game unbeaten streak:
“The boys are working hard. They’ve got great habits. They’re tight as a group and we’re working hard on and off the ice. They’re getting a little puck luck for a change, so hard work is paying off.”
Didmon on playing at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee:
“It’s an exciting place to play. They’ve got fans that are really into the game. It’s a fun atmosphere. For us, we’re coming a day early, we’re going to have a game-day skate tomorrow so the young guys can get used to the rink and the differences of it and hopefully it’s not a shock when we get a large crowd and such an exciting atmosphere.”
Wenatchee head coach Bliss Littler on facing Victoria tonight:
“They have points in their last 11 games. Obviously (head coach) Craig (Didmon) always has a pretty quick team, so we’re excited to play them.
“We’re pretty banged up right now, but I think if we play our style of hockey and stay out of the penalty box I think we should give them a good game. I think we play a very skilled game. We get up and down the ice and stay out of all the BS after the whistle.”
Littler on his team’s top-ranked offense:
“We don’t take a lot of penalties for the most part so I think we have a lot more power plays than most teams. I think we play a pretty fast game. I think it’s a game that the colleges like. We show a lot of skill and I think we’re a pretty deep team.”
Littler on his team’s league-best home record:
“I definitely don’t think that picking up points coming in here is an easy thing to do. I think that our kids definitely like playing in this environment. We generally have pretty good crowds.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.