For the Victoria Grizzlies, their 2023-24 season is officially underway. It is a season of changes for Victoria and the British Columbia Hockey League.
For the Grizzlies, 2023-24 is their 30th season in the BCHL. The team’s inaugural season was 1994-95 when they were known as the Victoria Salsa.
This season is significant for another reason. Since July 1st, the BCHL has been independent of Hockey Canada and teams are operating under expanded player recruitment rules.
I am giving a breakdown of the Grizzlies’ 2023-24 regular season schedule for this article.
First and last games
For Victoria, they opened the season with a 4-2 loss in Surrey on Sept. 22. They bounced back with a 4-3 win the next day in Chilliwack against the Chiefs. Victoria’s first home game is on Oct. 1 in the first of seven games this season meeting the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Victoria’s last regular season home game is March 23 against the Chiefs but the Grizzlies’ final game of the season is eight days later by visiting the Coquitlam Express.
Island Division series
As mentioned earlier, the Grizzlies and Capitals face each other seven times. Their first matchup is on Oct. 1 in Victoria and their final matchup is Dec. 16 at The Q Centre.
Powell River is another team Victoria faces off against frequently. The first game of their seven-game season series is Sept. 29 in Powell River. The Kings and Grizzlies final matchup is March 8 in Victoria.
The Grizzlies and Alberni Valley also meet up seven times. The first match-up is on Oct. 6 at The Q Centre and the final meeting of the season is in Port Alberni on Feb. 28.
Finally, the rivalry against the Nanaimo Clippers reignites on Nov. 10 at Frank Crane Arena. The Grizz and Clips face each other seven times in total, including wrapping the series up on Feb. 17 at The Q Centre in Colwood.
On Nov. 17 and 18, the Grizzlies visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Penticton Vees, respectively. The Grizzlies visit the Trail Smoke Eaters and Merritt Centennials on Jan. 26 and 27, respectively.
During the 2021-22 season, the Grizzlies planned a special theme night to honour Leo, Gerry, and Myles Fitzgerald when the Cranbrook Bucks came to Victoria. The triplet brothers played for the Grizzlies during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
At the time, Myles was an assistant coach with the Bucks, and severe weather throughout the B.C. Interior cancelled the theme night. On Dec. 2, the Bucks finally come to Victoria, but Myles isn’t on their coaching staff anymore.
On Feb. 9, the Vernon Vipers arrive in Victoria for the first time since Oct. 8, 2022. It’s the first time Vernon will visit Victoria since before the pandemic.
On Feb. 16th, the Prince George Spruce Kings arrive in Victoria for their only regular season matchup. The last time these two teams played was Oct. 7, 2022, in Prince George. Like Vernon, the Spruce Kings haven’t played in Victoria since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BCHL Showcase
On Oct. 24, the Grizzlies play the first of their two BCHL Showcase games against the West Kelowna Warriors. The next day, Victoria is the home team for a meeting with the Merritt Centennials.