Grizzlies Grab Point, But Lose in OT in Nanaimo

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Nanaimo, BC (ISN) – One thing for certain this BCHL season is that when the Victoria Grizzlies and Nanaimo Clippers play one another, it is going to be a close game.

That was the case again Wednesday night in Nanaimo, as the Clippers used a goal from Ryan Coghlin with 43 seconds remaining in the first overtime to defeat the Victoria Grizzlies 5-4 at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo.

Victoria’s Brett Gruber (left) tries to poke the puck off the stick of Nanaimo’s Brendan Taylor in first period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win was the fifth for the Clippers over the Grizzlies in seven meetings this season, with all seven games being decided by just a single goal, including the last two in overtime. The Grizzlies seem to be snake bit so far this season in extra frames, as this marked their 10th overtime loss on the season, tops in the BCHL.

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Nanaimo goaltender Guillaume Decelles (31) covers up one of his 36 saves before Victoria’s Ayden MacDonald (26) can pounce on the rebound (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Wednesday was no different, as the Grizzlies had multiple great chances to score in the extra period, dominating the frame, only to see Coghlin’s point shot elude a screened Michael Stiliadis to give the Clippers the win.

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Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) avoids the check of Nanaimo’s Spencer Hewson (14) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On the plus side, the Grizzlies earned a hard fought and important point and still sit third in the Island Division, six points up on Alberni Valley and just four points behind second place Powell River.

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Nanaimo’s Edwin Hookenson (5) chases the puck ahead of the Grizzlies Dane Gibson (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies battled hard all game to overcome one-goal deficits three times before finally taking a 4-3 lead in the third.

Goals by Nanaimo’s Anthony Rinaldi, Nicolas Carrier and Edwin Hookenson were mirrored by goals from Victoria’s Jay Mackie, on a breakaway, and two from Matt Kennedy to send the game into the third tied 3-3.

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Nanaimo’s Anthony Rinaldi (10) drives hard to the net under pressure from Victoria defenceman Meirs Moore (15) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies then took the lead at the 2:35 mark of the third on a nice power play goal from Dane Gibson, converting a nice pass from Kevin Massy.

The Clippers would respond at the 5:37 mark, as Brett Roulston would chip the puck out of his end to create a 2 on 1, and then rip a shot over the shoulder of Stiliadis to tie the game 4-4.

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Victoria’s Meirs Moore (15) and Nanaimo’s Edwin Hookenson (5) battle for the puck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies had a prime opportunity to win it with less than 30 seconds to play when Kennedy broke in all alone, but his bid for a hat-trick was spoiled by Nanaimo goalie Guillaume Decelles and the game went to OT.

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Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) looks to avoid pressure from Nanaimo’s Nick Gushue (24)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the overtime , the Grizzlies dominated, with their best chance coming again from Kennedy who was once again stopped in close by Decelles.

A few seconds later, Coghlin launched his game winner to send the crowd of 932 home happy and snap the Grizzlies modest three game win streak.

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Victoria’s Jay Mackie (18), who would score the Grizzlies first goal, looks for an opening in overtime Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“It would have been great to come out of here with two points,” said Grizzlies Head Coach Craig Didmon after the game, “But I’m happy with how we played. The boys battled hard and we got an important point out of it.”

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Victoria’s Matt Kennedy would score a pair of goals, but would be denied a third here in overtime by Nanaimo goaltender Guillaume Decelles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies now return home for a pair of games this weekend, hosting the Vernon Vipers on Friday at 7:00 and then hosting the Langley Rivermen at 2:00 on Sunday.

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Victoria’s Dane Gibson (16) tries to shoot from his hip, after being take down by Nanaimo’s Yanni Kaldis in overtime Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Nick Guiney, Garret Forster and newcomer Mark Krabben (an AP from the Okanagan Rockets) did not dress. Nanaimo head coach Mike Vanderkamp was ejected from the game midway in the second, as he was in strong opposition to some calls on the ice. Grizzlies outshot Nanaimo 40-36. Thomba Huddleston earned his first BCHL point with a beautiful breakaway stretch pass on Jay Mackie’s goal.