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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

September 13, 2014, Sooke, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Grizzlies skated to a well earned 3-1 win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals in BCHL exhibition play Saturday afternoon in Seaparc Leisure Centre in Sooke.

Victoria’s Cole Pickup carries the puck into the Capitals zone during first period action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The game, played as part of a “Hockey Day in Canada” like event hosted by the Sooke Rotary Club and Sooke Minor Hockey was well attended with close to 400 fans in attendance, who gave up a glorious late summer afternoon to watch the Junior A stars in action.

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Victoria’s Jay Mackie (18) drives hard to the net under pressure from Cowichan’s Brodie Smith (23) during first period action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The game was a final chance for some of the Grizzlies hopefuls to show their stuff prior to final decisions being made, as this was the final exhibition game for the Grizzlies prior to the season kick-off next week in Chilliwack.

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Victoria’s Meirs Moore carries the puck into the Cowichan zone early in the second period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“Yes we are pretty much down to a few final decisions that need to be made,” said Grizzlies Head Coach Brad Knight prior to the game. “It should be an entertaining affair and I suspect our guys will work hard to show me what they have.”

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Victoria forward Spencer Hunter gets set to shoot in second period action Saturday against Cowichan (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The first period was a pretty evenly played affair with both teams having chances, however it would be the Grizzlies who would strike first at the 8:08 mark when defenceman Zach Dixon floated a wrister through a crowd and past a screened Lane Michasiw, the starting goaltender for the Capitals.

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Victoria defenceman Zach Dixon (3) would be the offensive hero Saturday, notching a pair of goals in the Grizzlies 3-1 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the second, the Grizzlies would extend their lead midway through the period, when P.J. Conlon would bang one home and just a few minutes later at 14:02, Dixon would score his second of the game with a booming slapshot that eluded Michasiw and found the back of the net.

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Victoria’s Brett Gruber (8) tries to control a loose puck under pressure from Cowichan’s Rylan Bechtel (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the third, the Grizzlies had a prime opportunity to add to their lead on an extended 5-on-3 powerplay, as the Capitals were whistled first for a 5-minute major to Rylan Bechtel on a check from behind to Mitch Meek, and then again for a minor roughing penalty to Julien Lepage. Meek, who lay motionless on the ice for a few minutes, left the game with an apparent upper body injury and did not return.

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Victoria forward Kevin Massy (11) tries to chae down a loose puck at the side of the Cowichan net during second period action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On the powerplay, the Grizzlies were patient and worked the puck around well, but could not find the net and the score remained 3-0 with just over 12 minutes to play.

After that, play was pretty even, but the Capitals would finally catch a break with 3:14 left as Daniel Wanner worked himself free in the slot, took a nice feed from behind the net and snapped one home past Grizzlies goaltender Michael Stiliadis.

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Cowichan’s Kyle Horseman moves into the Grizzlies zone during this third period scoring opportunity (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It would be too little, too late however and the Grizzlies shut things down after that to hold on and come away with the 3-1 win, their third of the pre-season and second over the Capitals.

The Grizzlies outshot the Capitals 30-21.

Head Coach Knight will now make his final decisions and then get the team ready this week for the opening Showcase weekend in Chilliwack where the Grizzlies will open the season Saturday afternoon September 20th against the Vernon Vipers at 3:30 pm and then face the Langley Blaze at 2:00 pm on Sunday.

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Victoria Captain Shawn McBride has made the shift to defence this season and seems right at home on the back end (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The team then stays on the road for games in Cowichan on September 26th and Nanaimo September 27th, before returning to The Q Centre for their home opener on Friday October 3rd against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Puck drop for that one is at 7:00 pm.