Kyle Robinson

Visiting Den Members: Victoria Grizzlies affiliate players

During the last few weeks before the holiday break, several new players suited up for the Victoria Grizzlies. These are affiliate player call-ups from around the south coast region.

Some of these AP call-ups are already familiar to the Grizzlies. Two players were members of the Grizzlies lineup during the 2021 pre-season, others are newer players who were called up along the way.

For this article, I want to talk about these AP call-ups – who these players are and where they play. I also want to talk about some of the circumstances that led to these call-ups, which start with a series of player suspensions and injuries.

Missing members

The BCHL is getting serious about preventing head injuries. Isack Bandu and Matthew Wood were each assessed blow to the head penalties in November and both players served multi-game suspensions. Another player who was suspended is Grizzlies captain Ellis Rickwood, who sat out for one game.

Aside from player suspensions, several Grizzlies are dealing with injuries. Bandu is nursing an injury that has kept him out for several games. Starting goaltender Carter Woodside has gone home to Saskatchewan to deal with a lingering injury and it’s why the Grizzlies acquired Cole Schwebius from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Aside from being suspended, Wood was away from the team for a week to attend the Capital City Challenge in Ottawa before returning to the Grizz. All of these players play critical roles on Victoria’s roster and their absence leaves a noticeable void.

There’s another player departure worth mentioning. Longtime Grizzlies forward Desmond Arthurs has re-signed with the Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. His final game with the Grizzlies was Nov. 26 against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Visiting members

Among the several AP call-ups, forwards Ollie Josephson and Andrew Petruk are very familiar to the Grizzlies. Both were part of Victoria’s prospects lineup in a preseason game on Sept. 19.

Josephson made his regular season debut on Nov. 19 against the Powell River Kings and scored his first BCHL goal.. As for Petruk, he made his debut on Nov. 20 against the Wenatchee Wild.

Another affiliate call-up was Andrew Kim from the Port Moody Panthers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He made his Victoria debut on Nov. 28 against the Langley Rivermen.

On a December road trip, several new affiliates made their debuts. One of them was defenseman Adam Leitch from the PJHL’s Ridge Meadows Flames, who played his first BCHL game on Dec. 11 against Langley.

On Dec. 15, several more APs skated in their first BCHL regular season games for the Grizzlies. Among them were forward Dante Paziuk from the BC Elite Hockey League’s North Island U18 Silvertips, forward Logan Walker from the Kerry Park Islanders of the VIJHL, and defenseman Nathan King from the BCEHL’s South Island U18 Royals.

A look to the future

During the 2021 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft, Josephson was selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the first round. The Rebels have since signed Josephson to a WHL Standard Player Agreement and he made his Red Deer debut during a Dec. 15 game against the Swift Current Broncos, even scoring his first career WHL goal in the game.

It’s clear Josephson has a promising career ahead of him, whether it is in the WHL or the BCHL next season remains to be seen.

It wouldn’t be the first time a prospect like Josephson joined the Grizzlies roster after being an affiliate first. Cameron Smith, who was part of that Sept. 19 preseason prospects lineup, ended up being signed as an active roster player by Victoria.

Another rookie who joined the Grizzlies this season is Timothy Kim. He signed with Victoria this past summer after being part of the Grizz during the 2020 extended training camp season, something I noted last year.

Given the way things have gone for the Grizzlies, there are likely more affiliate players from the reserve roster joining the team in the future as the second half of the 2021-22 regular season chugs along and the Fred Page Cup playoffs appear on the horizon.