Grizzlies Claw Back for Overtime Win in Alberni

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 18, 2015, Port Alberni, BC (ISN) – Thomas Gobeil scored a pair of goals including the tying goal with 53 seconds to play and the game winner at 3:19 of overtime, as the Victoria Grizzlies overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3 in BCHL action Wednesday night at Weyerhauser Arena in Port Alberni.

The Grizzlies Thomas Gobeil (25) would have a pair of goals, including the game-tying and game-winning goals to lead Victoria to a 4-3 OT win in Port Alberni Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win, the Grizzlies third in a row, was an important one for the team, who finally caught a break and won in overtime (the team has 10 OT losses this season), plus it keeps them ahead of the Bulldogs for third place in the division. Victoria is now 6-1-0-1 against the Bulldogs this season and are three points ahead in the standings.

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Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) would be thwarted on this early scoring chance by Alberni goaltender Billy Christopoulos (31) and defenceman Brett Stewart (27) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies are also now just a single point behind Powell River for second place in the Island Division with a big game coming up against the Kings at The Q Centre on Saturday night.

Also scoring for the Grizzlies was Dane Gibson with his 28th and Jay Mackie with his 21st, while Michael Stiliadis got the start in net and was solid, especially in overtime, stopping 39 shots in total to pick up his 19th win of the season.

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The Grizzlies Dane Gibson would keep his hot streak going with a goal and an assist on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The line of Brett Gruber (one assist), Mackie (goal and an assist) and Gibson (goal and an assist) continues to be hot for Victoria, adding another five points tonight to give them 24 points total in the team’s last three games, all victories.

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Victoria defenceman Kevin Massey (11) would have a solid game Wednesday, earning an assist on the Grizzlies third and game-tying goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Things did not look good for the Grizzlies early, as they surrendered a goal just 15 seconds into the game to the Bulldogs Scott Clark, his 22nd of the season.

While Gibson tied it up with a power play goal at 10:46, the Bulldogs struck twice in the span of 11 seconds with goals from Braden Fuller at 17:52 and Chris Schutz at 18:03 to take a 3-1 lead into the first break.

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Victoria’s Cole Pickup (14) would have a glorious chance to score on this second period breakaway but would come up empty (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a scoreless second period, the Grizzlies began to turn the tide in the third, when Mackie buried a rebound from a Gibson tip to pull them within one with 8:52 to play. They then took advantage of a late Alberni penalty, pulling their goalie and scoring on Gobeil’s first of the night with just 53 seconds to play.

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Victoria defenceman Chris Harpur (5) carries the puck into the Alberni end (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

At the buzzer of regulation time, things turned nasty with a number of penalties, the net result being the Grizzlies shorthanded due to a spearing penalty and ejection to Mitch Barker.

Alberni dominated on the overtime powerplay, launching at least four quality scoring chances at Stiliadis, but he was the best he had been all night, keeping the puck out and pucntuating the end of the powerplay chance with a huge glove save.

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Victoria’s Dane Gibson (16), Jay Mackie (18) and Brett Gruber (not pictured) have now combined for a total of 24 points in Victoria’s last three games, all wins (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

He would be rewarded for that effort just a minute later when Mackie blew past the Alberni defence only to have his breakaway attempt stopped by Alberni goalie Billy Christopoulos, however, Gobeil, who was following the play, buried the rebound for his 23rd of the season, sending the Grizzlies home with the 4-3 win.

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Victoria’s Cole Pickup looks for an opening off the wing in the third period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Grizzlies Assistant Coach Scott Hawthorne was pleased with the outcome. “We had an extremely slow start tonight so at the breaks we just kept talking about coming back hard and playing with more emotion. We finally started playing our way in the third, caught some breaks and found a way to tie it up. It also felt really good to get the win in OT and to prove to ourselves that we can come back and win in OT, especially given the tough breaks we have had in that regard this season. Stiliaidis was huge for us in the extra frame and that is what we will need to see from him night in and night out once the playoffs begin. This was a huge win for him and for us with playoffs just around the corner.”

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Victoria defenceman Cody Van Lierop skates away from the pressure of Alberni’s Justin Marreck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Grizzlies now have four games remaining in their season, the first of which is Powell River who invade the Q Centre on Saturday night. The Grizzlies then travel to Cowichan on the 25th and close out the season with a home and home against the Nanaimo Clippers on the 27th and 28th.

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While Victoria’s Jay Mackie (18) would not score on this overtime breakaway, a trailing Thomas Gobeil (25 background) would bury the rebound to give the Grizzlies the 4-3 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: The Bulldogs outshot the Grizzlies 42-25. Dane Gibson (28g, 54a) is now third in BCHL league scoring, while Brett Gruber is now 11th (35g, 27a). Matt Kennedy (shoulder) and Nate Forrester (upper body) did not play. With an assist, rookie defenceman Thomba Huddleston now has a three game scoring streak going. Victoria’s league leading power play continued to roll, going 2 for 5 on the night.

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