by Fraser Rodgers
February 15, 2014, PENTICTON, BC (ISN) –The Fitzgerald triplets showed why they’re arguably the best line in the BCHL on Saturday night, in the Victoria Grizzlies 3-1 win over the Penticton Vees at the SOEC.
All three Victoria goals came from the three brothers and the trio combined for five points, as the Grizzlies handed the Vees their second straight loss on home ice. Myles Fitzgerald led the pack, scoring twice and finishing with a game-high three points and Leo scored the only other Victoria goal. Gerry picked up an assist, extending his league-best point streak to 18 games.
Nic Renyard finally beat his former team on his third try, as he stopped 29 of 30 shots in the win.
For the second straight night the Vees were held to just one goal by the visitors. Riley Alferd was the only Vee to put the puck in the net on Saturday and again, it came in an unconventional manner.
Like Friday, the Vees opened the scoring early and it was again, in a peculiar fashion. On a delayed penalty to Victoria, Travis Blanleil dumped the puck into the Grizzlies zone from centre ice. Renyard went out behind his net to play the shoot-in, but watched the puck ricochet off the end boards, through his own legs and back out front. Riley Alferd was at the right place, at the right time, as he tapped-in his 5th at 4:06.
The Vees failed to build upon the early lead and then ran into some penalty trouble midway through the opening frame. Myles Fitzgerald brought the Grizzlies back level, when he banged-in a cross-crease feed on a Victoria man-advantage. After the Vees were called for having one too many skaters on the ice, Jaden Schmeisser threaded the needle to Myles at the back-post for a tap-in at 13:07.
Myles Fitzgerald picked up his second of the night just shy of the six-minute mark in the second period. Myles took a pass from his brother Leo in the slot, but had his stick tied up by a defender as he tried to shoot. Myles stuck with it, pulling the puck back on his blade before beating Hunter Miska five-hole at 5:45.
Just like Friday, the Vees had a number of chances to tie the game in the second period, none better than Brad McClure missing an open net on a back-hand attempt, after he undressed the Grizzlies goaltender with a deke in close.
Leo Fitzgerald put the Grizzlies up by two early in the third period. Leo broke down the right-wing but had his shot blocked, the rebound popped out to his brother Gerry but his back-hand attempt was stuffed by Miska’s pad, at the post. Gerry grabbed that rebound, spun a shot to the net but it too was blocked. The puck jumped off a leg in the cease and right to Leo, who banged it into an open net, sixty-two seconds into the frame.
McClure had another chance to shave the deficit to one but was robbed by Nic Renyard’s glove on a breakaway. McClure was hit with a pass from inside his own zone but couldn’t pick the corner on a wrist-shot from the slot.
Final Score: 3-1 Victoria
Shots: 30-29 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-4 Victoria 1-6
Three Stars: 1) Myles Fitzgerald 2) Leo Fitzgerald 3) Nic Renyard
The setback drops the Vees record to 32-15-2-4 and their home records slides to 17-7-0-3. Saturday was the twenty-first time this season the Vees were held to two or less goals in a game. Travis Blanleil left the game in the first period and did not return, after sustaining a lower-body injury on a controversial hit. The Vees finish with a 9-2-0-1 record in 12 games against the Island Division this season; 2-1-0 against Victoria.
The Vees are now tied on points with West Kelowna for top spot in the Interior Division, after the Warriors picked up a point in an overtime loss to Vernon Saturday. The Vees hold the tiebreaker, as they have one more regulation win than the Tribe.
The Vees and the Warriors meet in a first place showdown on Tuesday, February 18th, at Royal LePage Place. The two teams have split the six-game season series thus far; puck drop is 7pm. The Vees are back at home on Friday, February 21st, when they wrap up their season series with the Trail Smoke Eaters. Tickets are available at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC), or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com