Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 25, 2015, Duncan, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Grizzlies are one step closer to securing second place in the Island Division and home ice playoff advantage after a 5-2 win over the Cowichan Capitals in BCHL action Wednesday night at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.
Victoria’s Dane Gibson had a pair of goals to lead the Grizzlies to a 5-2 win over Cowichan Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies can now fully secure that spot this Friday or Saturday with a win (or some other combination of two points) in either of their remaining two games, both against the Nanaimo Clippers, at Frank Crane Arena on Friday and back home at The Q Centre on Saturday.
Victoria’s Thomas Gobeil (25) was playing against his old team for the first time since being traded at the deadline (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Playing hero for the Grizzlies on Wednesday, like he has done many times this season, was forward Dane Gibson, who notched a pair of goals to push his team leading point total to 86. Also contributing were Grizzlies defenceman Chris Harpur and forward Ayden MacDonald, with his fourth goal in the last five games and one which proved to be the game winner.
The Capitals did what they could to put bodies in front of Grizzlies goaltender Michael Stiliadis, but he would still see enough to stop 18 of the 20 shots that he saw to get the win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Grizzlies forward Thomas Gobeil, playing his first game against his old team since being traded at the deadline and just itching to score a goal all game, finally got his wish by scoring the last Grizzlies goal into an empty net, much to the displeasure of the Cowichan fans.
Cowichan’s Ben Verrall (5) skates away from pressure from the Grizzlies Dane Gibson (16)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Responding for the Capitals were Julien LePage, on a first period powerplay that gave the Caps an early 1-0 lead and Kade Kehoe, who scored on a second period breakaway that made the score 2-2 at the time.
Cowichan’s Kade Kehoe celebrates his goal that tied the score 2-2 in the second period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Michael Stiliadis got the start in net for the Grizzlies and while he did get a ton of work, he was solid when he needed to be, continuing his hot streak, stopping 18 of 20 to get the win, his 21st of the season and fourth in a row. Matt Zentner was in the net for the Capitals and stopped 20 of 24 in the losing effort.
Cowichan Captain Kyle Horseman, completed an emotional season Wednesday, playing his final game as a Junior (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
This being the final game of the season for the Capitals, their graduating players, Skylar Pacheco, Jesse Neher, Julian LePage and Kyle Horseman all played with their hearts on their sleeve and that carried over to the rest of the team who came out firing in the first period and took the lead on LePage’s early goal.
Victoria’s Thomas Gobeil would score into an empty net to notch a goal against his former team and clinch the game for the Grizzlies (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies would find their own momentum halfway through the first frame and when Harpur, who made a nice power move from the point to the net, scored at 12:15, the Grizzlies had tied things up 1-1, a score which would carry to the first break.
In the second, the Grizzlies Gibson would notch his first of the game just 1:36 into the frame to put the Grizzlies ahead 2-1. That score would hold, until 9:13 when the Capital’s Kehoe sped in behind the Grizzlies defence and beat Stiliadis with a nifty deke and shot to the top corner.
Victoria’s Brett Gruber had an assist but was kept off the goal scoring sheet for the third game in a row (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies would then take the lead on a somewhat disputed goal, as a Shawn McBride centering pass would deflect in off the knee of MacDonald for the 3-2 lead. The Capitals would pressure late in the frame, but thanks to a couple of helpful goal posts, Stiliadis and the Grizzlies kept the 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Cowichan’s Mitchell Stapley leads the charge out of his own end (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies would put the game away in the third, when Gibson snapped home his 31st goal of the season at the 7:49 mark. Cowichan would not quit though and kept coming after the Grizzlies, pulling goaltender Zentner with almost a full two minutes to play. The move paid off in that they had a number of close chances, but when Gobeil picked up a loose puck and buried it into the open net with only eight seconds to play, the deal was sealed and the Grizzlies secured the 5-2 win, their fifth in a row.
The Cap’s, who will finish out of the playoffs, see their record finish at 20-33-2-3, while the Grizzlies improve to 27-18-1-10 and are now 6-2-0-1 in their last nine games.
Victoria’s Jay Mackie (8) battles with Cowichan’s Kyle Horseman after a faceoff Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: Grizzlies forward Dane Gibson, in third place in the BCHL in scoring, has made a commitment to the University of Maine and will begin play there next season. Missing from the Grizzlies line-up Wednesday were Garrett Forster and Matthew Kennedy, both with upper body injuries. The Grizzlies Nick Guiney and Capitals Rylan Bechtel engaged in a spirited fight in the second period, with both players being ejected as a result. Grizzlies leading goal scorer Brett Gruber had an assist for the Grizzlies but has now been held goalless over his last three games. He has not gone more than four without a goal all season so expect him to hit the net Friday in Nanaimo. Jay Mackie had an assist Wednesday and now has points in five straight games. Goaltender Stiliadis is peaking at the right time and now has four wins in his last four starts.