Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
November 23, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Zach Dixon’s goal at 1:07 of double overtime gave the Victoria Grizzlies a 6-5 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters in BCHL action Sunday afternoon at The Q Centre in Victoria.
The Grizzlies Brett Gruber (8) tips this shot just wide of Trail goalie Adam Todd in first period action Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win capped a nice rebound week for the Grizzlies, winning three of four games following a tough interior road trip, including a pair of wins over the Division leading Nanaimo Clippers and the win today over a team that embarrassed the Grizzlies 10-4 last Friday in Trail.
Turnabout is fair play as they say and Trail can now enjoy the long bus ride home wondering what could have been in a road trip for them that ended with a pair of tough losses, 2-1 to the Clippers last night and today’s heartbreaker against Victoria.
Grizzlies forward Ayden MacDonald looks for a way around Trail defender Harlan Orr (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Smoke Eaters began the game and looked like they were going to once again run over the Grizzlies, outshooting them 6-2 early and scoring on the power play at 4:50 and again at 17:25 of the first period to take a 2-0 lead. Jake Fletcher and Jake Lucchini were the goal scorers for the Smokies.
The Grizzlies were able to get one of those back before the period was out, as Brett Gruber scored on the powerplay, zipping his 12th of the season past Trail goaltender Adam Todd with 1:31 to go, sending the Grizzlies into the break down just the single goal.
Grizzlies Captain Shawn McBride leads the charge up the ice Sunday. McBride would score his 4th of the year and have an assist in the 6-5 win over Trail (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That goal provided a big momentum change for the home squad and they came out on fire in the second period, outshooting Trail 20-7 and scoring three times to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Leading the way was Matt Kennedy who scored a pair of goals, one at 9:50 and another at 17:23, when he banged home a Jake Emilio rebound. Shawn McBride had the other goal at 16:28, finishing off a great two-on-one highlight reel pass from Dane Gibson that brought the 847 in attendance to their feet.
Grizzlies forward Dane Gibson would have another strong game Sunday, earning a pair of pretty assists (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Trail had appeared to cut that lead to 4-3 late in the period, but a delayed, linesman called major penalty to the Smokies Dallas Calvin, who moments earlier had taken out Grizzlies defenceman Jake Emilio, negated the score.
Grizzlies forward Garrett Forster, here making a move past Trail’s Hunter Atchison, would have a three assist game Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Third periods have not been kind to the Grizzlies this season and Sunday was no different, as the Smoke Eaters made some adjustments, killed off the remainder of the major penalty to Calvin and then battled back to tie the Grizzlies with goals from Charlie Zuccharini, on the power play at 6:26, and Wilson Northey at 12:22.
Just when the crowd was thinking “Oh no, not again!” Jay Mackie restored the Grizzlies lead with just over five minutes to play, as he snapped home a nice shot after receiving a pretty pass from behind the net from Gibson.
Grizzlies defenceman Meirs Moore carries the puck out of his end Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Less than 2 minutes later, the Smoke Eaters would capitalize again, this time as Connor Brown-Maloski found the puck in a mad goalmouth scramble and it past a sprawling Michael Stiliadis to tie the game 5-5 and send things into overtime.
After the initial 4-on-4 extra period solved nothing, the teams switched to 3-on-3 and just 1:03 in, Dixon swooped in off the right side and snapped one past Todd to win the game and bring the joyous Grizzlies off the bench in celebration.
Victoria’s Mitch Barker (7) looks to make a pass under pressure from Trail’s Dexter McLeod (8) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
While Dixon was the overtime hero, the Grizzlies received standout performances from Kennedy, with two goals and an assist, Garrett Forster, with three assists, Mackie, with a goal and an assist, Shawn McBride, with a goal and an assist, and Gibson, with two highlight reel assists. Stiliadis won his third game of the week in net, stopping 22 of 27 Smoke Eater shots.
With their third win in the last four games, the Grizzlies improve to 11-9-0-4 but they still remain in fourth in the Coastal Division, three points back of Powell River and five back of second place Alberni Valley.
The Grizzlies will have their next chance to improve that place in the standings on Wednesday November 26th when they host the last place Cowichan Capitals at The Q Centre. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm.
The Grizzlies Cole Pickup was honoured prior to the game by the Junior A Shamrocks Lacrosse club for his selection to the BC Junior A Lacrosse League 1st All-Star team (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: PJ Conlon (healthy scratch) and Storm Wahlrab (upper body) were not in the line-up Sunday for the Grizzlies. With yet another one goal victory, it marks the 18th game thus far for the Grizzlies that has been decided by a single goal. The Grizzlies were 1 for 3 on the power play and are now 26 for 100 for the season, third in the league. Grizzlies forward Cole Pickup was honoured prior to the game for his success with the Junior “A” Victoria Shamrocks lacrosse team.