In 26 seasons, the Victoria Grizzlies have seen over a dozen starting goalies play for them. The latest to take the starting job is Carter Woodside.
Woodside emerged as Victoria’s number one goalie during the Port Alberni Pod last season. He helped backstop the team to the pod championship. Woodside has one more season as the starter before he ages out.
With the Grizzlies approaching their 27th season, I want to highlight several starting goalies who played for Victoria during different parts of the team’s history. I’ll begin with Victoria’s inaugural season in 1994-95, the first playoff appearance, and the franchise’s first league championship.
But that’s just the start. I want to highlight goalies from their final season as the Salsa and their first season as the Grizzlies. I want to include the goalie from the RBC Cup and those from several deep playoff runs.
Finally, I want to highlight the goalie situation from their 25th anniversary season in 2019-20. Before I get started, let’s touch upon the goalies for this coming season.
As stated above, Woodside is returning to be Victoria’s number one goalie in 2021-22. Grizzlies head coach and general manager Craig Didmon confirmed this in a recent BCHL article. Joining him on Victoria is newly signed goalie Kyle Kelsey. He will act as the backup to Woodside for this season.
The Salsa years
For Victoria’s inaugural season in 1994-95, Colin Ryder had the number one goaltending position. He actually played for several junior teams before arriving to the Salsa.
Because it was Victoria’s inaugural season, they finished near the bottom of the league. As for Ryder, he went on to play pro hockey in Europe and last played for the Belfast Giants in Ireland.
For Victoria’s first playoff appearance in 1997-98, Jimi St. John held down the number one goaltending position and actually won the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy that season as the Coastal Conference’s most valuable player.
After that season, St. John played pro hockey in a number of North American minor leagues. He finished his playing career with the Columbus Stars of the UHL in 2003-04.
For Victoria’s 2000-01 championship run, Jordan Sigalet earned the number one goaltending position and helped backstop the Salsa to its first Fred Page Cup championship.
Unfortunately, a multiple sclerosis diagnosis cut his playing career short and he finished in Russia with Gazovik Tyumen in 2008-09. You can read more about Sigalet’s career here.
Davis went on to play pro hockey for a number of seasons in Australia after two years of schooling at the University of Prince Edward Island.
The early Grizzlies goalies
For Victoria’s first season as the Grizzlies, Hunt returned as the number one goalie and is the only netminder to play for the team before – and after – the rebrand.
After the 2006-07 season, Hunt attended the University of Western Ontario. He last played during the 2009-10 season.
The Powell River Kings eliminated the Grizzlies in the Island Division Finals. As the RBC Cup hosts, the Grizzlies received an automatic birth in the tournament but didn’t win. It was their BCHL counterpart from Vernon claiming the RBC Cup that year.
Grieco, like Hunt before him, went from the Grizzlies to the University of Western Ontario for a couple of seasons. Afterward, he went to Italy to play pro hockey and last skated for Pontebba in 2012-13.
The deep playoff runs
Between 2013 and 2019, the Grizzlies had three deep playoff runs. In 2013-14, Victoria’s number one goalie was Alec Dillon. He backstopped the Grizzlies to the semi-final round-robin tournament that year.
After the round-robin tournament, Dillon went to the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. After that, Dillon joined the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings and later committed to the University of Victoria of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League. He last donned the pads during the 2018-19 season before injuries ended his playing career.
In 2016-17, Victoria had another deep playoff run. The number one goalie for that season was Matthew Galajda. He backstopped the team up to the third round against the Chilliwack Chiefs. After Victoria, Galajda went to Cornell University in the NCAA. He’s currently playing at the University of Notre Dame.
Victoria’s latest deep playoff run came after the 2018-19 season. That year, Kurtis Chapman was Victoria’s number one goalie as the Grizzlies were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings in the semi-finals.
Chapman played for several junior A and major junior teams before coming to Victoria. After the Grizzlies were eliminated, he headed to Mount Royal University.
The 25th anniversary season
Wood’s on-ice performance earned him a permanent spot on the team. As a result, Victoria traded Howe to the Coquitlam Express. The Grizzlies made the playoffs as a crossover team and were swept in the first round by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Wood remained with Victoria until after the 2020 extended training camp. He departed the Grizz to focus on work opportunities.
Things in common
Each goalie noted above has things in common with the others. For most, their time in Victoria was brief, but each played at least one season in BC’s capital city. Several lasted more than one season, but that has rarely happened over the years.
Almost all the goalies I highlighted attended college after playing. Of those who attended school, many continued playing overseas, and even after playing, several have taken on coaching jobs.
For example, Sigalet is now director of goaltending for the Calgary Flames while Dillon is now head coach of the University of Victoria men’s hockey team.
Every goalie highlighted left a mark on the team – they played during an unforgettable season in Grizzlies history – and have the memories to last a lifetime.