The pickup truck that carries the Frisbee toss garbage can at the Revelstoke Forum explained the unusually quiet atmosphere in game one. It was covered by about 10 centimetres of snow — probably nearly as much had fallen on Revelstoke since the puck was dropped in game one of the Revelstoke Grizzlies and the Sicamous Eagles best-of-seven playoff series. As a result of the extremely heavy snow, few Sicamous fans made the perilous drive to Revelstoke on Friday. The few who did were the only ones in the arena with anything to cheer about.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies dropped their home-opener 5-1 to the underdog Sicamous Eagles, who seemed more pumped for the game than the hometown favourites.
Eagle Connor Fynn earned the first star of the game and a hat-trick, including the first goal at at 4:46 of the first frame. Fynn snapped in a pass from behind the net from Jagger Bowles.
The Eagles dominated the first period, earning more chances in the offensive zone. They also held off the Grizzlies’ attack, which suffered on the rush and lacked the ability to put together meaningful possessions in the offensive zone.
Revelstoke’s Kent Hendrickson drew a high sticking penalty at 8:14, leading to a power play goal by Brendan Devries.
If they ever had any cheer in them, the third and final goal of the first period took it out of the respectably-sized crowd at the Revelstoke Forum. Brayden Taekema dumped in a weak shot from just inside the red line. The bobbling puck was badly mishandled by netminder Conrad McMillian, who was under no pressure when he let it slide past him. McMillian looked like he was getting the hook when a timeout was called after the harmless shot fooled him, but he was left in.
Connor Fynn netted his second goal 1:55 into the second when Tarren Cavanaugh fed Fynn a near-breakaway pass that he put past McMillian five-hole.
In the ensuing minutes, the Grizzlies put together a rally, coming up with their best chances against goalie Chris Drott.
Drott played a solid game, including good positional play. If there was a weakness the Grizzlies didn’t exploit, it was more banging in front of the net and scooping up rebounds.
The Grizzlies’ Michael Roberts nearly put one in just after the Eagles’ third goal, and Jordan Bledsoe just missed rebounding one off of Drott in a centring attempt from behind the net.
Bledsoe followed up a few moments later with a drive to the net that led to a rebound, but his teammates couldn’t corral the bouncing puck for a goal. Grizzlie Riley Creighton also drove the net during the flurry of Grizzlies chances, but couldn’t put it past Drott.
Marc Letourneau got the Grizzlies one-and-only goal halfway through the game, assisted by Michael Roberts and Lucas Hildebrand.
A scrum at 11:59 of the second let to roughing calls against both teams and a slashing penalty against Reid Blinkhorn that put the Grizzlies a man down.
Connor Fynn earned his hat-trick with the fifth and final goal of the game 18 seconds later.
The Grizzlies rallied after the fifth goal, managing the gain the zone and establish their passing game a few times, generating solid scoring opportunities. They showed signs of a settled, purposeful game for a few brief minutes.
The rally was stymied when Tye Sanford drew an unnecessary four-minute spearing penalty. Sanford sent a Sicamous player to the ice away from the play, but right in front of an official. The Grizzlies did kill the penalty, but it cost them their rally and the remainder of the period.
There were a handful of scrums in the third, including slashing, cross-checking and roughing penalties, but there were no fights in the match.
Game two takes place at the Revelstoke Forum on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies will have the opportunity to meet Vancouver Canuck Aaron Volpatti, who’ll be signing autographs at a charity event from 12–3 p.m. at the Forum.
Volpatti took an unconventional route to the NHL, including an Ivy League university hockey career at Brown University. He was then picked up by the Vancouver Canucks organization last year, finally earned a roster spot this season in training camp after a some starts in the 2010-11 campaign.
Perhaps the injured Volpatti can assure the Grizzlies that the playoffs – like a hockey career – are a long and winding journey with many ups and downs.