Leading up to the start of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season, which starts Nov. 13, 2020, the league is publishing team previews.
The Grizzlies finished second overall in the KIJHL’s regular season standings with 39 wins. In the Teck Cup playoffs they went 6-0. Grizzlies GM-coach Ryan Parent says with the turnover they had, he feels their needs have been addressed.
“We’ve got a good group,” says Parent, who lost players to junior A clubs. “We’re going to let these guys grow their game and show us they can get the job done.”
Their philosophy has been to try to grow players from within.
“Now it’s time for us to get to work,” he says.
The Grizzlies had veteran pieces return on defence that Parent says are good. They also have strong forwards.
“It’s just adding to those pieces that we already had,” says Parent, who is supported by a strong coaching staff.
In getting ready for the season, Parent is seeing players improve daily, which he adds “is always exciting as a coach to think that you are playing a part in helping someone be better than he thought he could be.”
Motivating the players hasn’t been an issue because they brought them in at a time Parent says was good – in early October. It was up to the players to train on their own in September, but the Grizzlies played exhibition games nearly every weekend.
Incoming rookies: Parent has guys say to him they are in a rebuild.
“I look at our roster and I go, we have been every year. We were in a rebuild when we went to the finals three years ago,” he recalls. “We were in a rebuild when we won the Cyclone two years ago. I think in Revelstoke we try to look at it as more of a reload situation. Our philosophy again has always been, to load up with good young players that we think can progress and can become contributors down the stretch. The key ticket for us is development of those young players. It’s not always easy. We want the most out of our young guys so they can contribute and help us win.”
Carter Bettenson, Owen Chamberland, Riley Klugerman, Collin Kozijn, Bennett Kuhnlein, Jovan Malay, Ethan Mattern, Tyden McWillis, Corson Penman, Dylan Westlake, Jackson Desouza, Will McPhee, Borys Protsenko, Josh Singh and Kayden Sutherland.
Parent is confident by the end of the regular season, the Grizzlies will be a contender.
“I have been impressed by the way our group has responded,” says Parent, who is waiting to see over the next month or two what they bring.
“They compete every game. They are expected to be dominant on the ice. They know the culture of our dressing room. I’m a big culture guy. The veteran players are an extension of the coaching staff.”
Speerbrecker, Parent says, has been an outstanding captain over the last two years. Between the pipes, the Grizzlies are in good shape with Noah Desouza, who Parent considers to be one of the top goalies in the KIJHL. The second-year goalie will share the crease with off-season addition Brandon Weare, picked up from Golden for future considerations.
“I thought he had a reasonably good season as a first year goaltender,” says Parent of We are. “He has done really well with us at this point. Weare is not too far behind him (Desouza).”