The preseason schedule is over and the 2019-20 regular season kicks off for the Victoria Grizzlies on September 7 when they travel up the Malahat and face their Vancouver Island rival Cowichan Valley Capitals. The teams faced off in the preseason and split their two games with intensity, but it was the Duncan-based club that had the last laugh on August 31.
They were both competitive games despite a 5-2 scoreline, but the Grizzlies struggled to score when it mattered. The two power-play goals in their 3-2 victory on August 30 were promising, however, they came on 12 chances due to undisciplined play by the Capitals. With their top six goal scorers from last season off the team, 150 goals have disappeared and will need to be replaced if Victoria is to have a successful season. Marty Westhaver’s 16 goals in 2018-19 put him seventh on the team and the captain will need to improve on that number this year.
Victoria brought in two players in the off season that were supposed to help in that regard – Jayden Struble and Kosta Manikis – but both players have left for greener pastures. Struble, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2nd round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, will start at Northeastern University a year earlier than planned, and Manikis has decided to forego his commitment at Clarkson University to play for the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.
Who does that leave to score goals on this version of the Grizzlies?
Cody Monds is a player to watch with potential. The Brockville, Ontario native has spent the last few years lighting up the United States High School Prep league with Northwood School in Lake Placid. His 36 goals and 59 assists led the team and there should be no reason to believe that Monds could not score in the BCHL as well. He ended the preseason on a line with Westhaver, which will likely be the go-to offensive duo that Head Coach and General Manager Craig Didmon leans on to start the season.
The Victoria Grizzlies are pleased to announce they have signed Northwood JR. @monds_19 for the 2019-2020 season! Cody lead Northwood with 39 goals and 55 assists in 66 games. Welcome to the Grizzlies family Cody.#WeAreGrizzlies pic.twitter.com/LLulCUL1GB
— Victoria Grizzlies (@BCHLGrizzlies) May 9, 2019
Monds will only be here for one year as he heads to Providence College for the 2020-21 season. Another player who will need to step up and produce in his only season is Brendan Bowie. Off to St. Lawrence University next fall, Bowie comes to Victoria from St. Andrew’s College where he scored 54 goals in 66 games split through two different levels of competition. The winger just needs to find a center to feed him the puck and with 60 assists himself, Bowie has no problem passing with success.
Top Offensive Player Award – Brendan Bowie ‘19 pic.twitter.com/l18w1RGObK
— SAC Hockey (@sachockey) May 5, 2019
The last player that the Victoria Grizzlies could look at to score goals for them this season is Bryce Anderson. A player with experience in the BCHL, Anderson played for the Trail Smoke Eaters last season and collected only six goals. The speedy forward is only 18-years-old and has been traded twice this summer; first from Trail to the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for goaltender Gabriel Waked, and then again from Flin Flon to Victoria for future considerations. It’s safe to say that he is coming into this season with a chip on his shoulder which can only be a good thing for his production. As long as Anderson is given a chance to succeed offensively, he could be a 20 goal scorer this season and a great pick up for Didmon.
“Bryce has very good speed and offensive awareness and he is an experienced player who brings more depth to our hockey club”
-Coach Didmon on the Grizzlies newest forward pic.twitter.com/4z8j3xCtjd
— Victoria Grizzlies (@BCHLGrizzlies) August 28, 2019
There are a lot of unknowns coming into this season for the Victoria Grizzlies. Opportunities are in place for any player to take the reigns and help the Grizzlies win some games by scoring big goals, which will not only help the team but it certainly could help their own careers going forward.