After their road trip was unexpectedly extended by Monday’s floods, the Victoria Grizzlies were gearing up Wednesday to return to the Island on a chartered plane.
Team president Lance Black said the group has been holed up at the Penticton Lakeside Resort for four days, and with each day on the road costing the team more than $3,500 and a home game scheduled for this Friday (Nov. 19), a decision had to be made whether to wait until driving home was an option, or find another way home.
“Our main concern is the safety of our players and we are going to make sure we get home safely,” Black said. “Our only way home we feel is flying, so we arranged for that.”
It’s a costly choice however, with the charter expected to raise the cost of the trip to around $40,000, more than double the normal cost of such a road trip.
But considering what many other southern B.C. flood victims are going through – evacuations and destroyed homes – Black said the team considers themselves fortunate to have been living so comfortably and is happily making the best of it.
“The Penticton Vees have arranged some practices for us, they have allowed us to use their dressing room and they have also done our laundry for us. They stepped up big time,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there who are a lot more desperate than we are.”
The team’s hotel has also been accommodating of their situation, and Black said he has been approached by multiple locals while out and about who expressed concern and offered any help they could provide.
The delay has also meant more time for team bonding, with players spending plenty of time at the cinemas and hotel pool together over the past few days.
That morale boost is especially valuable, Black said – the team lost three straight games before breaking out with a 6-2 road win Sunday over the Trail Smoke Eaters, and some key players have been missing.
It also isn’t expected to impact the Grizzlies’ schedule, as their next game is at home against the Powell River Kings on Friday. Black said the Kings intend to stay in town that night to avoid the current overnight road closures on the Malahat.
According to the BCHL website, only one game has been impacted by the flooding as of publication time, with Wednesday’s game between the Vees and Merritt Centennials listed as postponed.