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Leading the Den: a look at the Victoria Grizzlies forwards


The majority of the Victoria Grizzlies offense comes from the team’s forwards. Players like Cody Monds and Alex DiPaolo put up big numbers last season. Along with Henri Schreifels and Marty Westhaver, the four players combined for 186 points.

Westhaver and Schreifels have since aged out and left for the NCAA. Other players aged out or were traded in an offseason that was very busy for general manager and head coach Craig Didmon.

Many of the new players had high point totals in previous seasons, and a player like Thomas Maia is spending his final junior A season in Victoria. In the 2018-19 season with the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Maia had 20 goals and 38 assists in 53 games.

Others like Ellis Rickwood are making his junior A debut with the Grizzlies. He comes from the Hamilton Kilty B’s of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Last season with the Kilty B’s, Rickwood scored 17 goals and 45 assists in 50 games.

Then there are players like Matteo Turrin, whose physical size makes it hard to miss him on the ice. I noted his presence in my first article on the Grizzlies.

These new players are here to shore up the offence for a team that struggled last season. Together with the returning forwards, and some reserve roster players, the Grizzlies look to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Island Division last season. Victoria was then swept in the first round by the Silverbacks.

All these forwards will have expectations coming into this season. Some are expected to continue their points production. Others are expected to step up their games while others will provide backup for the team. All during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Point totals and stepping up

Returning from last season are Monds and DiPaolo. Between the two of them, they had a combined 97 points. Both players have committed to different NCAA schools next season so this is their last year as Grizzlies.

Looking to contribute to the Grizzlies offense are rookies Rickwood and Colby Joseph. Last season, Joseph played for the Yellowhead Chiefs U18 AAA team in the MU18HL. In 48 games, he had 36 goals and 35 assists for 71 points.

Then there’s Devon de Vries. He comes from Stanstead College in the CAHS. In 58 games, he had 35 goals and 46 assists.

Luc Pelletier spent last season with the Penninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, earning 18 goals and 17 assists in 48 games. There’s also Desmond Arthurs. In 44 games, he had 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points.

While these forwards are expected to continue providing offense, the Grizzlies are counting on other returning players to step up. Guys like Chase McInnis and  Andrew Amousse are looked upon to improve their points totals from last season.

McInnis had eight goals and 11 assists in 57 games. Meanwhile, Amousse had 13 goals and nine assists for 21 points in 51 games. Michael Hoekstra had a goal and five assists in 47 games while Connor Eddy had four goals and eight assists in 45 games.

Finally, there’s Edward Yan. Yan was on pace to exceed his goal totals from 2018-19, but he only played 27 games because of a knee injury. He finished with five goals and six assists.

These are the players that are expected to step up this coming season. For the extended training camp, the Grizzlies have been joined by a number of reserve players.

Meet the reserve guys

In a previous article, I mentioned Matthew Wood. He’s joined by another reserve forward named Andy Westhaver, who is already playing for the Westshore Wolves of the VIJHL. He’s also the younger brother of former Grizzlies forward Marty Westhaver.

Next is Timothy Kim. He comes from the Greater Vancouver Canadians U18 AAA team. Kim’s not an official reserve player and only appears on the Grizzlies official stat page on their website. He’s played one game so far with no points.

These reserve players will contribute to the team until the end of the extended pre-season. Afterward, the new players and returning veterans will play a very different season. A season that won’t look like anything that came before.

These are the reserve players with the team for extended training camp. These are the players who are expected to step up their game. Finally, these are the players who are expected to continue producing points for a Grizzlies team looking to rebound from a disappointing 2019-20 season.