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'None of us were prepared': Victoria Grizzlies back home after bus stranded in storm

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The Victoria Grizzlies junior "A" hockey team is back home after the most expensive road trip in team history.

Many people in the province were left stranded from the destruction caused by washouts and mudslides last week.

The lucky ones escaped without injury or loss of property, and the really lucky ones managed to find some light in the historic storm.

"None of us were prepared for it obviously," said Grizzlies forward Michael Hoekstra on Friday.

Last week, the Grizzlies were left stranded along the Coquihalla Highway following the historic storm.

After a weekend win in Trail, B.C., the Grizzlies headed homeward to Penticton for an overnight stay.

And stay they would once they saw images of flooding and landslides on TV.

Communities that the hockey team knows, like Abbotsford and Merritt, were left unrecognizable.

After team management counted their blessings, they tallied up the cost of housing and feeding more than 20 teenagers, for who knows how long.

Usually a road trip like this costs $15- to $17,000. But management says that the safety of players and staff always comes first, with costs coming second.

Fortunately, the Grizzlies also got an assist from rival team, the Penticton Vees, who gave them a dressing room and ice to practice on.

"When the puck drops we want to beat the other team, but we're partners and we wanted to make sure we made their stay as comfortable as possible," said Vees president, head coach, and general manager, Fred Harbinson.

The team would end up spending three nights in Penticton, and they didn't exactly have to rough it.

The team stayed at a lakefront resort, and even had a pool party one night.

The biggest surprise, however, came at the airport.

Grizzlies ownership footed the bill to fly the team home on a chartered jet, while most of the province's major highways were still closed due to flooding damage.

The away games turned out to be a $45,000 road trip that was unforgettable, for all the right reasons. And once the players landed back in Victoria, home ice never felt so good.

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