Grizzlies take down San Diego in tournament opener
That is what the Tahoe Grizzlies achieved since the last time they played a Southern California youth hockey team.
The Grizzlies outlasted the San Diego Oilers 3-1 in their 2011 Lake Tahoe Invitational squirt division opener on Friday at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena.
Three different Tahoe players scored power play goals to trigger their seventh win of the season against no losses.
“Last year they came up here and killed us, so it’s nice to get a win against them,” said Tahoe Grizzlies’ coach Stephen Rooney. “The commitment level has risen in Tahoe hockey.”
Tahoe got on the board first at 12 minutes, 13 seconds of the opening period when Nicholas Cruz took a pass from Lucas Demsar and deposited the puck into the back of the net.
The Grizzlies added a second goal seven minutes later against the shorthanded Oilers. This time, Cameron Johnson scored unassisted to make the score 2-0.
San Diego got a goal back in the second period when Cole Parker beat Grizzlies’ goaltender Nicholas Ilvento for the only time at 12:04.
Tahoe responded with 7:05 remaining in the second period as Mickey Sullivan and Zachary Dill hooked up with the former being credited with the game’s final goal.
“San Diego is a really good team, and we had to play hard for three periods to win,” Rooney said. “We played a great third period, and the third period is when you win games.”
Next up for the NorCal-leading Grizzlies in the pool-play format is Santa Rosa at noon on Saturday. They’ll conclude the preliminary round against Vacaville at 6 a.m. Sunday.
Chemistry and unselfishness have been key to the Grizzlies’ early season success, according to Rooney.
“They support each other, and that’s what you need to have a good team,” Rooney said. “They are passing well and talking.”
The squirt division finals are set for 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Tahoe also has entries in the peewee and mite groups. The Tahoe Bears lost their mite division opener to San Diego 15-1 on Friday. John Ilvento tallied the Bears’ goal. They will meet San Francisco at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Oakland at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Grizzlies’ peewee tournament entry met San Diego on Friday afternoon, then will oppose Santa Rosa at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Oakland at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Admission to the tournament is free.