Grizzlies Salvage Point in Double OT Loss to Nanaimo

1DX 7723

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

November 28, 2014, Nanaimo, BC (ISN) – Sheldon Rempal’s goal at 49 seconds of the second overtime gave the Nanaimo Clippers a 3-2 win over the visiting Victoria Grizzlies in an exciting and well-played BCHL match-up at the Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo on Friday night.

Victoria’s Kevin Massy battles with Nanaimo defenceman Yanni Kaldis in front of Nanaimo goaltender Guillaume Decelles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Clippers, who battled back from a 2-0 deficit on the strength of second period goals from Jacob Hanlon and Cole Maier, moved their win streak to three with the win, and in the process, held off a Grizzlies team that played a much better game than they did on Wednesday night when they lost 5-2 to the Cowichan Capitals.

1DX 7753
Nanaimo’s Jake Jackson (21) gets a step ahead of Vicoria’s Jay Mackie on this play. Mackie was called for tripping on the play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on the strength of goals from veteran Jay Mackie and another from Nanaimo defenceman Jordan Low.

Yes you read that correctly. After Mackie had opened the scoring at 4:19 with a pretty wrister from the slot, the teams battled hard for the rest of the period and with 2:38 remaining Low picked up a puck behind his own net and then did a perfect imitation of the Edmonton Oilers Steve Smith, attempting a cross crease outlet pass, but banking it off goaltender Guillaume Decelles and into the net. For you younger readers, Smith was a defenceman for the 1986 Oilers who banked a similar pass off goaltender Grant Fuhr in the third period of 2-2 tied game seven of a playoff series with Calgary. That goal sparked the Flames to the series win and they eventually won the Stanley Cup that season.

1DX 7760
Victoria defenceman Justin Sadler tries to slow down Nanaimo’s Sheldon Rempal. Rempla would later score the overtime winner for the Clippers (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While Low’s “own goal” – credited to the Grizzlies’ PJ Conlon – did not have nearly the same implications as that classic NHL moment, it did give the Grizzlies a 2-0 at the break and sent them into the change room sporting a huge amount of optimism.

1DX 7809
Nanaimo’s Yanni Kaldis stays one step ahead of Grizzlies forechecker Garrett Forster (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That optimism did not last long however, as the Division leading Clippers battled back quickly to tie the game. Hanlon’s goal came on a shorthanded opportunity just 3:17 into the period, as he skated in off the left wing and snapped a laser up and over the glove of Grizzlies starter Sean Cleary to cut the lead in half.

At the 9:22 mark, the Grizzlies were unable to clear the puck away from their net after a goal-mouth scramble and Meier then found the puck in the slot and buried a shot high over Cleary to tie the game.

1DX 7836
Victoria forward Cole Pickup leaps over Nanaimo goaltender Guillaume Decelles after missing on a prime scoring opportunity in the third period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After that, the teams engaged in a scoreless battle the rest of the way, with both Cleary and Decelles standing tall and keeping the game tied. Decelles was also helped by his goal posts, as the Grizzlies hit two of them before the end of the frame.

1DX 7839
Victoria Captain Shawn McBride gets away a backhander in the third period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A third period saw teams exchange power play opportunities and the Grizzlies appear to score a go-ahead goal when a Shawn McBride shot looked to go in just above the crossbar and then come back down quickly into the crease, but neither the referee or goal judge saw it and the period remained scoreless and went to overtime.

1DX 7847
Victoria’s Brett Gruber looks for a wrap-around opportunity under pressure from Nanaimo’s Kale Bennett (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The first 5-minute 4-on-4 overtime was some of the most exciting hockey this author has seen all season. Back and forth with opportunities coming for both sides, but neither team able to finish the other off.

The second overtime started the same way, but just 49 seconds in Rempal chipped a shot from the side of the net that rolled up the arm of Cleary, over the goalie and agonizingly down into the net, dropping just over the goal line before defenceman Zach Dixon had a chance to clear it away.

1DX 7895
Victoria defenceman Jake Emilio carries the puck into the Clippers end during overtime on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The goal sent most of the 1,361 fans home happy – there were a good number of Grizzlies supporters in the crowd – and improved the Division leading Clippers record to 19-8-0. The Grizzlies fall to 11-10-0-5 and they remain fourth in the Island Division, 4 points back of Alberni and Powell River who are tied for second.

1DX 7912
Victoria’s PJ Conlon battles hard at the side of the Clippers net during overtime Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a gruelling part of the schedule that saw the Grizzlies play 9 games in 15 days – including road trips to the interior and Powell River – the Grizzlies will now enjoy a week off. Their next game is on Friday December 5th as they travel to Cowichan to face the Capitals in a 7:00 pm start. They then return to the Q Centre on Friday the 6th to entertain the Merritt Centennials. Puck drop for that one is 7:00 pm.

1DX 7921
Grizzlies goal scorer Jay Mackie (18) drives hard to the net on Nanaimo’s Nicolas Carrier (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Final shots on goal were 27-27. Both teams were shut-out on their power play opportunities. Conlon’s goal was originally credited to Justin Sadler, which would have been his first in the BCHL. The Grizzlies released forward Quinn Thompson this week. Thompson had 2 assists in 14 games with the club. With November now complete, the Grizzlies home blue jersey campaign and auction raised over $5,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation. Grizzlies forward Storm Wahlrab continues to be out with a fractured wrist and may be back in the line-up by Christmas. The one-goal Nanaimo victory marks the 19th game of 26 that the Grizzlies have played that have been decided by one goal. This includes all six games against the Clippers.

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.