Grizzlies Giveaways Prove Costly in Loss to Powell River

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

November 22, 2014, Powell River, BC (ISN) – After a pair of nail-biting, one-goal victories over the Nanaimo Clippers on Wednesday and Friday, the Victoria Grizzlies could not find a way to do the same to the Powell River Kings on Saturday, dropping a 4-1 decision in BCHL action at the Hap Parker Arena in Powell River.

Victoria’s Dane Gibson leads the rush on this first period opportunity Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After an early morning 6:45 am departure and long bus and ferry ride to Powell River, the Grizzlies began the game Saturday a bit tentatively, but so did Powell River, with both teams seemingly playing it safe coming off their games Friday, a Powell River double OT win over Salmon Arm and the Grizzlies, with their second straight win over the Clippers.

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Matt Kennedy breaks in off the wing looking for a shot against Powell River Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Kings had some chances early and once again near the midpoint of the period, but Grizzlies starter Sean Cleary was solid in net, stopping all six shots he saw to that point.

The Grizzlies did have some of the best chances to score in the period when they were provided with a pair of power play opportunities in the second half of the frame, but the league’s #1 power play unit could not capitalize thanks to some similarly solid goaltending from Powell River’s Brett Magnus and the first period ended scoreless, with the Grizzlies outshooting the Kings 13-8.

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Victoria’s Dane Gibson (16) had a prime scoring opportunity on this play Saturday but was foiled by defenceman Ross Hnidy (44) and goaltender Brett Magnus (not pictured) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Prior to the game Saturday, the Grizzlies did some video review of their penalty kill over the past few games. This paid off well for the club, as they effectively killed off three Kings penalties – one at the end of the first and two more just past the mid-point of the second – to keep the entertaining game scoreless well into the second period.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies did not review any defensive miscues in the video sessions and it would be a series of three key defensive miscues, and some lucky Powell River bounces, that would cost the black and gold side the win on Saturday.

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Victoria’s Jay Mackie (18) looks for an opening in second period action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The first of these came just 30 seconds after the Grizzlies killed the third Powell River penalty when the Kings’ Brent Lashuk stuck his stick in the path of a Grizzlies d-man to to d-man pass, deflecting the puck up in the air where it slowly arced up and over the shoulder of a totally unexpecting Cleary, giving the Kings the 1-0 lead with 4:05 left to play in the second.

The second of these came just 2:00 into the third period, when Austin Kamer intercepted a puck in the Grizzlies end and made a nice pass to Jonny Evans, who then skated in unobstructed and beat Cleary with a nice shot up and over Cleary’s stacked pads to put the Kings up 2-0.

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Victoria forward Jay Mackie (18) looks for a way out of his end during Saturday’s action in Powell River (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The third came less than three and a half minutes later when another giveaway resulted in a shot on goal that deflected way up in the air and landed back in the Grizzlies crease, where Ross Hindy found it and stuffed it in after a mad scramble to make it a 3-0 lead.

After that goal, Grizzlies Head Coach Brad Knight called a time-out and emphatically urged his troops to pick it up and find a way to get back in the game. That move helped a bit, as the Grizzlies were able to stem the tide, evening things up on shots on goal clock and (ultimately a 33-33 tie at the end of the game) and scoring a goal of their own when Nate Forster spoiled Magnus’s shut-out bid with 2:38 to go with a shot from the point.

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Grizzlies Head Coach Brad Knight shows some emotion during a third period time out on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That would be as close as they would come however and when the King’s Liam Lawson scored into the empty net right at the buzzer, the Kings would come away with a final 4-1 victory.

While the loss was a disappointing one for the Grizzlies, especially following their two big wins over Nanaimo, they will have little time to dwell on it, as they face a long bus trip home and then a quick turn-around for a 2:00 pm start at home against Trail on Sunday. A fun game of “sewer ball” with the Cowichan Valley Capitals Pee Wee A team while waiting at the ferry dock in Powell River helped somewhat to clear the game from their minds and made for a much nicer road home.

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Powell River goaltender Brett Magnus was nearly unbeatable Saturday, allowing just one late goal and making 32 saves to earn the 4-1 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Sunday’s game against Trail will mark the Grizzlies third in the last 72 hours and mark their 7th in the last 10 days. Hopefully they will have enough gas left in the tank to get some revenge on Trail for the 10-4 defeat the Smokies put on the Grizzlies last Friday in Trail.

Show up at The Q Centre Sunday to find out!

Game Notes: Announced attendance was 644 – yet another game in a BCHL rink where the empty seats outnumbered the taken seats, something that perhaps the BCHL needs to address league-wide. The Grizzlies Storm Wahlrab (upper body) and Mitch Barker (lower body) were not in the lineup Saturday. Wahlrab will reportedly be out for at least 4 weeks with his injury. Barker is day-to-day. Final shots were 33-33. There was considerable debate about whether the last Kings goal went in before the buzzer. It was first allowed, then disallowed and then allowed again after review. The usually strong Grizzlies power play went 0 for 5 on the night. The Kings were 0 for 3.

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.