Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
January 21, 2015, Port Alberni, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Grizzlies are going to have to learn how to play in the third period if they are to have any success down the BCHL regular season stretch this season. In Port Alberni Wednesday, the Grizzlies suffered yet another third period collapse, turning a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss, as the Bulldogs scored three times in the period to come away with a crucial Island Division win at Weyerhaeuser Arena.
Victoria’s Dane Gibson looks to avoid a pair of Alberni defenders. Gibson would score the first Grizzlies goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That scenario is one that has been all too common for the Grizzlies of late and the loss Wednesday hurts even more, as it was a chance to secure important points within the Island Division and put some distance between themselves and the Bulldogs in the standings.
Thomas Gobeil would score two goals for the Grizzlies on Wednesday in the losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies, who will face these same Bulldogs four more times before the season is out, also failed to capitalize on a Bulldog lineup that is missing three of their top seven scorers with Evan Tironese, Kurt Gosselin and Josh Adkins (a combined 104 points of offence) all out with injury.
Ayden MacDonald leads the charge on this first period rush (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Early on it looked like the Grizzlies were going to walk away with this one easily. Taking advantage of a rash of penalty calls in the first minute of the game by referee Jarrett Taylor, the Grizzlies would score a pair of early powerplay goals to jump into a 2-0 lead.
Alberni’s Brett Stewart (27) would receive a slashing penalty for breaking his stick over Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) on this play Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Grizzlies leading scorer Dane Gibson got things started just 1:58 in as he banged his own rebound past Bulldogs starter Nathan Warren. Just 35 seconds later, Thomas Gobiel would get his second as a Grizzlie to make it 2-0.
After that it would be all Bulldogs, as they regrouped at the break and dominated both the second and third periods, out-shooting the Grizzlies 33-14 over those two frames.
Alberni would cut the lead in half 10:56 into the second when Tyler Povelofskie notched just his third of the season. The Grizzlies would counter that with a short-handed marker at 14:01, when Gobeil would get his second of the game, converting a beautiful 2 on 1 feed from PJ Conlon and the Grizzlies (luckily) took a 3-1 lead to the second break.
On this play, Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) would slide a great pass to teammate Thomas Gobeil (not pictured) for the Grizzlies third goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Alberni did not let that deter them however and in the third, they came out quickly. Garrett Halls scored just 22 seconds into the frame and Justin Marreck scored exactly two minutes later and suddenly, the game was tied 3-3, much to the delight of the 931 in attendance.
Alberni continued to dominate and were rewarded at the 8:42 mark of the frame when Grizzlies goaltender Michael Stiliadis let a rebound get away from him, only to have the Bulldogs Scott Clark bang it home for the go-ahead goal.
Victoria’s Meirs Moore (15) looks for an opportunity while on the power play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies exerted a little pressure late and pulled Stiliadis with a minute to go, but the Bulldogs were able to hold on for the 4-3 win.
The loss drops the Grizzlies record to 19-15-1-9 and they remain two points back of Powell River for second in the Division. The Bulldogs improve to 20-16-2-3 and they now close within three points of the Grizzlies for third.
Victoria’s Brett Gruber was held scoreless by the Bulldogs on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies will now spend some time at the (hopefully) friendly confines of the Q Centre as they host Salmon Arm this Friday and Chilkiwack on Saturday. Both games are 7:00 pm starts.
Game Notes: Cole Pickup (illness) and Garrett Forster (upper body) were not in the Grizzlies lineup Wednesday. Port Alberni’s Braden Fuller had a pair of assists to earn first star honours. Thomas Gobeil of the Grizzlies was named third star. Nathan Warren stopped 21 of 24 shots for the win. The Grizzlies Stiliadis made 36 saves in the losing effort.