Game 5 of the KIJHL Teck Cup Championship is tonight in Revelstoke. The Grizzlies lead the best-of-seven series against the Nelson Leafs 3-1. It’s been a tight series with all the games decided by a goal. Brandon Kasdorf of the Grizzlies leads all players with three goals, while Johnny Carmichael and Bryce Sookro of the Nelson Leafs lead in assists with three. In this KIJHL Notebook, the coaches from both teams give their insight on the series.
Revelstoke Grizzlies – Head Coach and GM Ryan Parent said Game 4, which they won 4-3 in triple overtime “was a good, competitive back and forth game.”
“Two good teams going head-to-head. It looked like Game 4 of a league final,” said Parent. “Typical of what you should see.”
Parent expected the series to be tight and very competitive. Both teams ranked in the KIJHL Power Rankings top-five, with the Grizzlies at No. 3 and the Leafs at No. 4.
When it comes to their play in the series, Parent said momentum ebbs and flows, but overall he has been happy with how his team has played.
“I think we have really good buy-in from our group,” said Parent, who guided the Grizzlies to a KIJHL Teck Championship win in 2018-19. “We are just trying to do the right things. Be focused on our game.”
Goalie Brandon Weare has provided very good goaltending with a .943 SP and a 1.84 GAA. Weare made 49 saves in Game 4 and had a 50-save performance in Game 1. Parent feels his team has played well defensively and have executed well on the power-play going 7-for-19.
“The special teams battle has been a fixture in each game, I think it will continue to be,” said Parent, as both teams have combined for seven goals on 24 power-plays in the last two games.
With an opportunity to win tonight and punch their ticket to the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Delta, Parent says they have never talked about finishing a series “because it’s a seven game series.”
“We know that any series can go seven games and we’re prepared to go seven games,” he said. “All we’re looking at as far as our group goes is what we are doing in the next game, and even the next shift to be successful.”
Nelson Leafs – “It was really fun. It would have been nice to get the win, but I think at the end of the day, both teams left every ounce they had of energy out on the ice,” said Leafs Assistant Coach Adam DiBella. “That was evident to me and I’m sure to Revelstoke’s coaching staff and to all of our fans.”
As tough as the loss was for the team, they understood nothing was left on the ice.
“I feel like we’ve had great games in Game 1 and 3 and 4,” said DiBella. “Their goaltender has had two games where he’s made over 50 saves. Although we are down 3-1, we feel confident in our games that we’ve played.”
DiBella said this series is the closest he has been part of as a player or a coach. The 29-year-old played four seasons of junior hockey, starting with the Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2010-11 then moving onto Junior A for three years and a season in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference with the University of Alberta-Augustana in 2014-15.
Trailing in the series, DiBella said they will emphasize to the players they have been in this situation before. They’ve trailed by two games in three of the four series they have played.
“Adversity is not something that is new to this group. If we just continue our process, and stick to our plan, we should be fine,” he said. “Every series has kind of presented a new and different challenge for us to overcome. This is just the challenge of the fourth round.
“When you do your pre-scout, there’s a reason that Revelstoke was the best team for goals against in the league and their goaltender has let in the least amount of goals (26 goals in 17 games for a 1.37 GAA),” continued DiBella. “His goals against is the best in the playoffs. We knew it would be very tight, especially with the way they play with their systems as well. We’re looking forward to a challenge tonight.”