The Alberni Valley Bulldogs pre-season is ending and when the ice chips clear, character and chemistry are going to carry the day, head coach Kevin Willison said.
The Bulldogs were 0-1-1 in pre-season play as they headed into a match with the Victoria Grizzlies at the AV Multiplex on Wednesday night, after the News went to press. The Grizzlies are coming off a 4-1 win over the Nanaimo Clippers Tuesday night.
The game marked the return of the Alberni born Fitzgerald triplets, who now play for the Grizz. “They’re going to be a handful to defend against,” Willison said.
The Bulldogs suffered an 8-2 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers on Sunday night and they played to a 5-5 tie with the Cowichan Valley Capitals last Saturday night.
The Bulldogs fielded a younger lineup against the Clippers than they did against Cowichan, and an even different lineup will take to the ice against Victoria.
“The effort against Cowichan was good but I was disappointed in the Nanaimo game,” Willison said. “That’s not the kind of effort a coach looks for in evaluating a player.”
The preseason gives the coaching staff a chance to watch young talent and to try different line combinations. The process is similar to perfecting just the right recipe. “We’re looking for the right chemistry and the commitment and character to play at this level,” Willison said.
The roster will be pared down from 28 players on Wednesday, and then again to 22 after the weekend.
The pre-season window for players to cut the mustard is short. “It’s over before it’s over,” Willison said.
So far, Willison says he’s impressed with the play of Evan Tironese, Ryan Lough, Lars Hepso and Marlon Sabo.
“We need to shore up our secondary scoring though,” Willison said.
Overtime… the Bulldogs traded the CJHL rights of 92-born goalie Matt Larose to the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for future considerations.
And the team announced Spiros Anastas as the team’s new general manager.