Hockey season in Nakusp got a rousing start Saturday as the Revelstoke Grizzlies took on the Princeton Posse at the Nakusp and District Arena.
Revelstoke beat Princeton 5-2 in a regular season game between the two Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams. The game was organized by Terry Welsh, manager of recreations and parks, and Zac Wethal as a way to kick off the Nakusp’s minor hockey season, which starts in two weeks.
Hockey fans got a taste of what the game was going to be like within the first five minutes as Revelstoke’s Andrew Brown was penalized for spearing. There would be plenty more from both sides as the night went on — by the end of regulation 28 penalties had been handed out.
Revelstoke took the lead on a power play with 24 seconds left in the first period on a goal by Jordan Rea, and the Grizzlies exploded for four more goals in the second. Zac Mckee, Rea, Ullar Wlatzka and Curtis Belbin found the back of the net to give Revelstoke a commanding 5-0 entering the third period.
Princeton got on the board with a pair of goals on the man advantage. Tristyn Olson scored nine minutes into the third, and Drew Carter added another one. That was as close as the Posse would get.
While there was plenty of excitement, there was also plenty of upset. Some felt the referees were playing favourites. After what was seen as a particularly unfair call, Geoff Goodman, head coach for the Posse, was thrown out of the game after using some fairly colourful language in discussion with the head referee.
“I think the referee took the game out of everybody’s hands with the way that he called the game in the second period and decided that one team would benefit from everything, and one team was going to get the shaft,” he said.
He said there seems to be a problem in the league with this style of officiating.
“It’s a dangerous, dangerous game, and this is why people who don’t watch hockey a lot don’t like our league when that stuff happens, because it’s not fair to the players, it’s not fair to the fans, and it’s not fair to hockey.”
After the interview it was revealed that three members of the Posse would be making a trip to the hospital for concussions.
Though there were strong words about how the game was officiated, both teams were clear in the admiration for Nakusp, its residents, and the arena.
“This is our first time in Nakusp, and we really enjoyed it,” said Ryan Parent, head coach for the Grizzlies. “We thought you guys had a great crowd.”
“It looked like they were enjoying the game. They cheered when Revelstoke scored, and our fans over here cheered when we scored, so that’s always good.”