The Olds Grizzlys' playoffs ended on the same note in which they started – a heavy loss at the hands of the Calgary Mustangs.
Once again the Mustangs used a big second-period outburst to put away the Grizzlys, wrapping up the best-of-five series in three straight games with Sunday afternoon's 7-1 final.
Over the three games of the series the Mustangs put away 20 goals compared to just five for the black and gold. For the Calgary squad, 11 of those goals came in the second period and often arrived in bunches, as they did in Sunday's series clincher.
For Olds forward Spencer Dorowicz, the team formerly known as the Royals has shed its image as a league doormat and has developed a bit of a swagger under its new monikor.
“I think they really developed … in January and February and I think they just learned how to win, and if they're scoring then they can back up their chirps so I think they'll do well (in the next round),” he said after the game.
That said, Dorowicz and his teammates believe they were in the closest blowout series they've ever experienced. The Grizzlys outshot the Mustangs in each of the three games and started all three games by putting the Calgary squad under pressure.
“I think they got a lot more breaks than we did and I know that can come from hard work, but it just seemed that way to me,” he suggested. “Obviously their goalie (Jay Deo) played awesome allowing only five goals in the three games we played them. It was just unfortunate that we couldn't put the puck in the net and if we'd buried a few of the chances we had … it could have been a different series.”
The loss secured the second straight season the locals were swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Last year, they dropped three straight to Canmore to bow out at the same stage of the post-season.
For team captain Corbin Karl who played his final game in the black and gold, his teammate's assessment of the series was spot on.
“I thought the score didn't really show us any justice and I thought we played pretty good all series,” he summarized. “For the Mustangs, you've got to give them credit for capitalizing on their chances.”
The only Grizzly to beat Deo on the night was Zane Jones early in the third period. However, it wasn't enough for the locals to get back into the game as the Mustangs booked passage to the next round.
And while the losses were bitter pills for the Grizzlys' young core of players to swallow, there is plenty of optimism already building for next year's team with upwards of 21 of the current roster eligible to return. Karl and Chad Berglund, who was lost for the year to a knee injury in game one, are the only two players who've exhausted their junior eligibility.
“We have a lot of young guys coming back next year with a lot of experience they got from this year and I'm just really looking forward to that,” said Dorowicz. “I'm going to work hard to get better and definitely work at getting stronger and hopefully I'll score some more next year.”
Karl said the room is full of players who should be able to help the team make the step next year and will learn from this year's experiences, both good and bad.
“I remember when I was a rookie and looking up to all these vets in the room and trying to do what they do,” he offered. “Hopefully I just kind of left my mark and the rookies can take over where I left off and they can have a better season next year.”
Karl pointed to players like Clay Howe and Dylan Hubbs as the type of players who could be wearing letters for the Grizzlys next season.
Grizzlys Pause – The three games of the series ended up 7-2, 6-2 and 7-1 with Bart Moran scoring twice over the three games to lead the Grizzlys while Taylor Bourne, Jordan Kancsal and Jones scored the other goals … The Grizzlys used three goaltenders over the three games, including Brandon Thiessen, Riley Parker and affiliate Cam Barnes, who started game two … The other south division playoff series featured Brooks sweeping Canmore in three straight games and the Camrose Kodiaks looking to finish off Drumheller on Monday night (after press deadline), thanks to a 2-1 series lead.