Steve Piccolo

New den members: Fresh faces for the Victoria Grizzlies


The Victoria Grizzlies continue to recruit new players for the 2021-22 season. Through trades and signings, Victoria has spent the entire off-season building its roster.

Forward Timothy Kim and goaltender Kyle Kelsey are among the newest to join the Grizzlies, and both come from the BC U18 AAA League. Kim played for the Greater Vancouver Canadiens and Kelsey played for the Vancouver NE Chiefs.

On the trade front, the Grizzlies have acquired several new faces. They’ve said goodbye to several familiar faces as well. Goaltender Justin Easter was sent to the Pickering Panthers and forward Matteo Turrin was traded to the Nanaimo Clippers.

It’s my goal with this article to list all the off-season changes. Included is where each new player came from and what their stats were. I’m also going to talk about the trades Victoria has made. Who went where, and what Victoria got in return. Before that, I want to talk about one player the Grizzlies recently acquired.

In a past article, I wrote about Eli Barnett playing in the 2019 Canada Winter Games. The Grizzlies traded for Barrett from the South Shore Lumberjacks of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.

During the COVID-19 shortened season, Barnett had six assists in 22 games. In return for the six-foot-four defenseman Barnett, the Grizzlies gave future considerations to the Lumberjacks.

Recent signings

Above, I mentioned the Grizzlies signing Timothy Kim and Kyle Kelsey. Kelsey came from the Vancouver NE Chiefs U18 team and the Grizzlies signed him out of a recent camp they held.

As for Kim, he suited up for two exhibition games against Nanaimo before the start of the Island Cup last October. 

Because of the pandemic, the Chiefs U18 regular season was canceled. Same with the Greater Vancouver Canadians U18 team. Because of this, there are only stats available on each player for past seasons.

In 34 games combined between the Canadiens U16 and U18 teams, Kim had 22 goals and 22 assists. As for Kelsey, before he joined the Chiefs U18 team, he played for the Burnaby Winter Club Elite 15s in 2019-20.

In 21 games with BWC, Kelsey had a record of 12-7-1. His goals-against-average was 2.96, while his save percentage was .921.

Another signing is defenseman Clark Hiebert from the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. The OHL canceled its 2020-21 season because of COVID-19. There are only stats available for Hiebert for his 2019-20 season. In 38 games, Hiebert had two goals and six assists.

Departing players

With new players arriving, several more have departed. After the 2021 pod season, the Grizzlies traded goalie Easter to the Pickering Panthers for future considerations. On Aug. 4, the Grizzlies traded Turrin to the Nanaimo Clippers for future considerations.

Easter had much promise for the Grizzlies, going into the pod season, I expected him to evenly split games with the new addition, Carter Woodside. Instead, Woodside became the workhorse and with him backstopping the team, Victoria became the Island Pod champions.

As for Turrin, he was the tallest player on Victoria’s roster. His size made him a formidable opponent and although more players like him are coming, the Grizz might miss his size and presence on the ice.

Incoming trades

Arriving with Hiebert, Kelsey, and Kim is defenseman Declan Ride. Like Barnett, Ride is another tall defenseman, this time from the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Ride is a six-foot-six blueliner from Mississauga, ON. Because of COVID-19, the OJHL season was canceled and there are only stats for the 2019-20 season. In those 42 games, Ride had six assists.

He came to Victoria in a complex three-team trade involving the Grizzlies, Oakville, and the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League. Oakville received the rights to defenseman Cole Weinger while Carleton Place got future considerations.

Another recent acquisition for Victoria comes from the Langley Rivermen that sees the Grizzlies receive forward Kalen Szeto. In exchange, the Rivermen get defenseman Tanner Attew and future considerations.

Because Langley opted out of the 2021 pod season, Szeto was loaned to the Trail Smoke Eaters and in 17 games, had seven goals and eight assists.

Roster construction in progress

Opening night for Victoria is Friday, Oct. 8 against Alberni Valley. Before then, more players will be added to the team.

Several players left because of college commitments and aging out of junior hockey. Because of these exits, the Grizzlies have several roster spots to fill.

As we get close to the regular season, I suspect there’s another article to write like this. Until then, the Grizzlies 2021-22 roster is slowly taking shape.