Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
March 3, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Well so much for home ice advantage. The Powell River Kings scored four second period goals to propel themselves to a 7-2 win over the Victoria Grizzlies in Game 1 of their Island Division BC Hockey League (BCHL) playoff series Tuesday night at The Q Centre in Victoria.
Victoria’s Brett Gruber (8) would get held up on this play by Powell River’s Derian Hamilton (3) but would later score the Grizzlies first goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies, who went on a seven game winning streak to end the season, thus securing second place in the division and home-ice advantage in this series, have now lost that advantage, even more so, given the 2-3-2 format of this series.
They now face an almost must win situation in Game 2 Wednesday and then must win at least one game in Powell River on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, to bring the series back to Victoria next week.
Powell River goaltender Brett Magnus (94) looks past the screen of Victoria’s Cole Pickup (14) and Kings’ defender Colton Sandberg (6) during first period action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
While the Grizzlies may respond fine tomorrow, grabbing a win in Powell River in three back-to-back games will be a tougher task, as they have had no success whatsoever there this season, dropping all four games played at the Hap Parker Arena.
Victoria goaltender Michael Stiliadis would be sharp early on, here making a big save on a first period breakaway by Powell River’s Jarid Lukosevicius (8) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Tuesday’s game was quite a turn-around for both teams from the way they finished the season and proved that regular season stats mean nothing once the playoffs begin. Powell River looked nothing like the team that lost five of its last six games to end the season and Victoria and goaltender Michael Stiliadis looked nothing like the team that had won seven straight, including a 3-2 win over Powell River on Feb. 21 and had only allowed 26 goals over their last nine.
Grizzlies forward Thomas Gobeil (25) tries to power by Powell River defender Colton Sandberg (6) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Kings were quick to jump on a Grizzlies squad that perhaps was feeling just a little too good about themselves heading into the series, scoring just 5:51 into the game on a goal by Nick Halagian that came on a quick shot off a faceoff that seemed to surprise Stiliadis.
While the Grizzlies did rebound to end up outshooting the Kings 9-8, they lacked the intensity one would expect in such a game and could not find a way to put one past Kings goaltender Brett Magnus and the 1-0 score held to the first break.
Victoria’s Jay Mackie (18) puts a move on Powell River’s Carmine Buono (22) as he moves the puck into the King’s end of the ice (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Grizzlies lack of intensity carried over to period two and the Kings would dominate, outshooting Victoria 22-11 in the frame and scoring four times to put the game out of reach. Scoring for the Kings were Ross Hnidy, Brett Lashuk, Halagian (with his second of the game) and Jarid Lukosevicius on a two man power play with just seven seconds to go.
The only bright spot in the period for Victoria was a power play goal by Brett Gruber, his first in his last five games, that made the score 2-1 at the time. While the small crowd of 520 had a glimmer of comeback hope with that goal, it was quickly dashed when Lashuk scored his goal just a minute later to put the Kings up 3-1 and Halagian scored just 41 seconds after that to make it 4-1.
Victoria defenceman Cody Van Lierop (23) looks for a shot in second period action Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the third, the Grizzlies had another glimmer of hope when Jay Mackie broke in all alone to beat Magnus at the 8:43 mark, but once again, the Kings would come right back and reply at 9:56 when Stephen Hiff would score to restore the four goal lead.
The Grizzlies’ Jay Mackie would score Victoria’s second goal of the game Tuesday and would earn third star honours in the losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Kings would get another goal from Mitchell Hawes at 12:39 to close out the scoring for the game. On that goal, Hiff earned his third assist of the night and with his goal, had a four point night to earn first star honours for the game.
Powell River’s Halagian, with two goals and an assist was the game’s second star, while Victoria’s Jay Mackie was named the game’s third star.
The Grizzlies will have to regroup quickly as Game 2 in the series goes Wednesday night at The Q Centre at 7:05.
Powell River’s Carmine Buono (22) holds back Victoria’s Jake Emilio (4) on this third period chance Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: Finals shots were 36-32 for Powell River. Matt Kennedy (upper body), Nate Forster (upper body) and Ayden MacDonald (suspension) were not in the line-up for the Grizzlies Tuesday. MacDonald will return Wednesday. Affiliate player Braden Pearce (Peninsula Panthers) was inserted in the Grizzlies line-up. Hunter Findlater, Liam Lawson and Nick Nonis were scratches for Powell River. The Grizzlies #1 power play unit went 1 for 4 on the night. Powell River was 1 for 2. Grizzlies forward Kevin Massy was an Honourable Mention for BCHL Player of the Week last week, as he had two game-winning goals, both in overtime.