Grizzlies Drop 3-2 OT Heartbreaker in West Kelowna

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

November 15, 2014, West Kelowna, BC (ISN) – Andrew Johnson’s goal at 3:03 of the first overtime gave the West Kelowna Warriors a 3-2 win over the Victoria Grizzlies in BCHL action Saturday night at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.

The goal capped an exciting third period comeback by the Warriors that saw them score at 13:33 and then, with the goalie pulled, with 20 seconds remaining in the game to send it to overtime.

Dane Gibson’s (16) fancy move would give the Grizzlies and early 1-0 lead over the Warriors on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies began the game like one would expect for a team that lost the night before 10-4, throwing everything they had at the Warriors and dominating early. They would be rewarded for that effort when Dane Gibson put a Peter Forseberg like move on Warriors goalie Andy Desautels just 1:46 in to give the Grizzlies a quick 1-0 lead.

After that, a back and forth period would ensue, with both teams having chances and trading power play opportunities, but it would be the Grizzlies who scored next, when Jake Emilio floated a shot through a screen on a powerplay, to put the Grizzlies up 2-0 with just 51 seconds left in the frame.

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The Grizzlies Mitch Barker (7) gets a jump on West Kelowna’s Kyle Marino (27) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The second period was a chippy and penalty filled affair that saw the Warriors handed a pair of extended 5-on-3 powerplay opportunities, one which carried through to the third period, but superb penalty killing by the Grizzlies and some key saves by goalie Sean Cleary, who stopped all 15 shots he saw in the period, kept the Warriors off the board.

The penalties did come at a cost however, as both Chris Harpur (check from behind) and Dane Gibson (5 minute major for blow to the head) were both ejected from the game as a consequence of their penalties.

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The Warriors Jordan Masters (19) looks for a way past the Grizzlies Mitch Barker (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies were also without the services of Jay Mackie for much of the third period, as he received a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct in the same scrum that saw Gibson penalized. That scrum came in retaliation for a two handed slash on Mackie that was not called when he broke in alone on a prime scoring chance seconds earlier.

After killing the two man advantage in the third, the Grizzlies seemed content to sit on their two goal lead, dumping the puck safely into the Warriors end when the opportunity presented itself and hanging on to the two goal lead well into the frame.

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Victoria’s Dane Gibson tries to slip around Warrior defenceman Rylan Yaremenko (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

They had an opportunity to get an insurance goal with one final power play chance just over six minutes in, but could not capitalize and that left the door open for the Warriors to mount their comeback.

That comeback started on a neutral zone turnover that led to a partial two-on-one and a nice finish by th Warriors Jordan Masters, who pulled Cleary to one side and then beat the Victoria goaltender to put the home squad on the board with 6:27 remaining in the game.

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Victoria’s Ayden MacDonald (26) drives hard to the net on this scoring chance Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Warriors kept up the attack and with just over a minute to play, pulled Desautels for the extra attacker. That move paid off, as with 20 seconds remaining, Jonathan Desbiens picked up a rebound at the side of the net and wristed it over a sprawling Cleary to tie the game and send the announced crowd of 914 into a frenzy.

In the OT, both teams had early chances, but after a Grizzlies rush was snuffed out at the Warriors blue line, the Warriors broke out on a 3-on-1 rush with Andrew Johnson carrying the puck down the wing. He moved in close and snapped a beauty past Cleary to give the Warriors the overtime victory and break the hearts of the visiting Grizzlies.

The win moves the Warriors record to 12-5-0-5 and they now sit in second in the Interior Division, 10 points back of Penticton for first and 3 points up on third place Merritt. The Grizzlies fall to 8-7-0-4 and the single point gives them 20 on the year, five back of Powell River for third in the Island Division.

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Victoria defenceman Jake Emilio (4) does everything he can to stop this late game scoring chance by the Warriors Mike Bounincontri (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies will now hope to salvage something out of this three-game road trip when they travel to Vernon Sunday afternoon to meet the 11-7-1-1 Vipers. The Vipers are coming off a 4-2 loss to Penticton on Friday. Game time Sunday is at 2:00 pm.

Game Notes: Storm Wahlrab (upper body injury) and Justin Sadler (healthy scratch) were not in the Grizzlies line-up Saturday. Final shots were 35-27 for West Kelowna. The Warriors were 0 for 9 on the powerplay. Sean Cleary picked up third star honours, stopping 32 of 25 in the loss.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.