Submitted by Brady Knezacek

The McBride Bantam Grizzlies bussed to Penticton, BC for a 14 team tournament on March 14-16 against teams from all over BC. The Grizzlies’ first game was Friday afternoon against the host team, the Penticton Vees. The Grizzlies came out tentative and were not used to playing on the larger Olympic size ice surface. Despite battling back twice to tie which included a goal by Billy Littlechild, the Grizzlies lost 5-3. Julie Vizza and Rylan Moore notched 1 goal and 1 assist each. Center, Bryden Basran, was with his teammates for the tourney but was unable to play due to a season ending injury earlier in the year. Grizzlies coaches commented he would have been a factor in this game.

The Grizzlies were early risers for a 6:30 am Saturday game against the Kamloops Junior Blazers. The Grizzlies played a strong team game on their way to a 4-2 win. Dawson Drader opened the scoring with a unassisted goal. Dylan Vizza, Rylan Moore and Julie Vizza also scored in the victory. In the second Saturday game the Grizzlies played the Vernon Vipers. Due to injury, the Grizzlies had a shorter than usual bench however their offence came alive and goaltender, Robert Knezacek shut the door for a 7-1 win. Dylan Vizza bagged five points with a hat-trick and two assists. Brett Jones used his speed on the big ice to score two goals. Defenceman Noah Janecke scored with a nice high glove side shot from the point. Drader also had a strong effort with one goal and one assist. Due to her strong forecheck, Shaelyn Bratten was able to contribute in the victory with one assist.

The Grizzlies ended the preliminary round with two wins and one loss. The Sunday playoff game opponents were determined by points allotted for periods and complete games won. The Grizzlies ended up being tied for fourth but due to goals for/against calculations, the Grizzlies were seeded in the 5th vs 6th playoff game. The Grizzles played the Pt. Moody Bantams. Injured player, Austin Gibson, returned to action. Due to other player injuries, Gibson was forced to play forward for the first time and played well. The Grizzlies played their best game of the tournament on their way to a 4-1 victory. All lines contributed, with Valemount player Eston Bustin and AP player (call-up from pee-wee) Ethan Quam, notching assists. Forward, Jordan Gibson, caused havoc in-front of Pt. Moody’s goalie which led to goals by Dylan Vizza (2 G), Drader and Jones. Defenceman, Rylan Moore had a very strong game at the back-end.

The McBride Bantam Grizzlies were the smallest minor hockey association team competing. Some of the teams who attended this tournament (Langley, Kamloops, Pt. Moody, Vernon) have more players in their hockey association than the population of McBride. Coaches Gerry Porrier, Brady Knezacek and manager, Kristine Drader, were very proud of the players’ efforts and how they conducted themselves during the weekend. The McBride Bantam Grizzlies would like to thank all who contributed to fuel costs for the trip and a big thank-you goes to our hockey parents for a great season.