A struggling Alberni Valley Bulldogs will try and shake the 0 this weekend as they face the Grizzlies in Victoria on Friday.
The Bulldogs are 0-7 going in, after they were spanked by the Surrey Eagles 7-5 and blanked by the Powell River Paper Kings 4-0 last weekend.
The Bulldogs ousted the Grizzlies in last year’s BCHL Island Division semi-finals before bowing out to the Surrey Eagles in the BC Hockey League Coastal Conference final.
Victoria is never an easy place to play, Bulldogs head coach Kevin Willison said. “It will be nothing less than tough and they won’t let up on us,” he said.
The Grizzlies are sputtering themselves, with an early record of 3-2-1. Their last action was in Cowichan last Saturday where they lost to the Capitals 4-2.
Port Alberni-born Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald lead Grizzlies scorers with nine and seven points respectively, while third brother Leo has three points.
Winning is going to take a complete team effort for the Bulldogs, with everyone operating from the same page, Willison said.
The Bulldogs will also be debuting two new acqu-isitions. They acquired goalie Tyger Howat from Brighton, Michigan. The six-foot-three net-minder played 17 games with Victory Honda.
The team assigned backup goalie Blake Pearson to the Comox Glacier Kings of the VIJHL to make room.
The Bulldogs also picked up six-foot-one right winger Jakson Elynuik from the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.
The Bulldogs subsequently traded Shane O’Brien to the Blind River Beavers of the NOJHL for future considerations.
Every-one is still getting familiar with the page Willison often speaks of.
The Bulldogs have 14 new players in the lineup, and that more than any other factor is responsible for the sluggish start, he said.
“It takes time to get everyone on the same page and for the necessary chemistry gel,” Willison said. “Every team goes through this but no excuses — it’s my job to get them on that page.”
Willison singled out the Surrey game. The Bulldogs roared back from 0-3 to tie the game 4-4 after two periods. But a bad change on a penalty kill and an inopportune bounce led to an Eagles goal then two more to win the game.
The Bulldogs were 3-4 on the power play against Surrey, but the Eagles were 4-7 against the ‘Dogs. Thus, the ‘Dogs worked on scoring but in particular special teams play at practice this week, Willison said.
“We let in too many goals in those games and didn’t work hard enough on the PK and we can’t let that happen,” he said.