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New goalies guarding the den: A look at Ansel Holt and Oliver Auyeung-Ashton

With a new season comes a new goalie tandem for the Victoria Grizzlies. Kyle Kelsey has joined the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and Cole Schwebius aged out of junior hockey and is now playing at the University of British Columbia for the Thunderbirds men’s team.

New head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster searched North America for replacements and brought in Ansel Holt and Oliver Auyeung-Ashton.

For the 2022-23 season, it appears that Holt will serve as Victoria’s new starting goaltender and Auyeung-Ashton looks to be the Grizzlies’ new backup. For the 2023-24 season, Holt is committed to the play NCAA Division I hockey at the US Military Academy.

This article is about tracking their paths to Victoria. It will also examine what each goalie can bring to the Grizzlies.

Last season, Auyeung-Ashton played for the Vancouver NE Chiefs U18 AAA team in the BC Elite Hockey League. His record during the regular season was 18-2-1 and 6-1 in the postseason.

As for Holt, he spent last season with the Maine Nordiques of the North American Hockey League. He played 26 games for the Nordiques and finished with a 6-9-5 record.

From Burnaby to Victoria

Auyeung-Ashton first joined the Vancouver NE Chiefs hockey program for the 2019-20 season, playing 20 games for the U15 team. He finished the season with a 4-9-2 record.

Before 2020-21, he joined the NE Chiefs U17 squad but COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of the BCEHL season.

Last season, Auyeung-Ashton joined the NE Chiefs U18 AAA team and emerged as a star player. He helped backstop the NE Chiefs to a provincial title and also played in the Telus Cup national championship.

From Cleveland to Victoria

Nicknamed “Gus,” Holt began his junior career in Cleveland, spending one season for the Barons 14U AAA team before joining the Little Caesars 14U AAA team in 2017-18.

From 2018 to 2020, Holt played for the HoneyBaked Hockey Club program. Across two seasons, Holt played 82 games of games for the 16U AAA team.

For the 2020-21 season, Holt joined the Maine Nordiques 18U AAA club. Because of less restrictive COVID-19 measures, Holt played 31 games for the 18U Nords. That same season, Holt made his junior A debut with the NAHL’s Maine Nordiques as an affiliate player.

Last season, Holt joined the main Nordiques roster and got into 26 games. Before coming to Victoria, Holt committed to the US Army men’s team, which operates out of the US Military Academy in West Point, New York.

The new tandem

In past articles, I’ve written extensively on Victoria’s goaltending situation. Finding consistent and reliable goaltending has been difficult for the Grizzlies.

Before last season, the goalie tandem was Kelsey and Carter Woodside. After Woodside was injured, the goalie tandem changed to become Kelsey and Schwebius.

With Holt and Auyeung-Ashton, the Grizzlies may finally have a stable goalie tandem. Holt has junior A experience from playing for the Nordiques and Auyeung-Ashton is one of the best goalies coming to the BCHL. The Grizzlies will need both goalies to be on top of their games to be in the mix for the top spot in the Coastal Conference.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have Hobie Hedquist for another season. Cowichan Valley gets McCoy Bidewell for another season. Meanwhile, the Nanaimo Clippers recruited Aidan Campbell from the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters and Powell River acquired veteran Kyle Metson from the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

All of the former Island Division teams improved their goalie tandems, it looks like Victoria’s done the same.