Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
January 27, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – When you’re hot, you’re hot. The Victoria Grizzlies kept up their winning ways on Wednesday night, with their seventh win in a row, skating to a 3-1 win over the visiting Red Bull Salzburg U20 squad from Austria in a BC Hockey League (BCHL) exhibition game played at The Q Centre in Colwood.
The Victoria Grizzlies Braedan Cross (9) gets set to take a shot under pressure from Salzburg’s Daniel Jakubitzka (86) during the game Wednesday in Victoria. The Grizzlies would win 3-1 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The game was the final game in the Red Bull team’s tour of the BCHL and marked the first time a Victoria Junior A team has hosted an international visitor since the U17 Swedish National team paid a visit in late 2007.
The Red Bull team has enjoyed some tough competition on their tour, posting wins over West Kelowna (8-6) and Vernon (6-4), while losing to Penticton (6-1) and Trinity Western University (4-2).
Victoria’s Joseph Visconti (17) carries the puck through centre ice against Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
With that 2-2 record, Red Bull wanted to win Wednesday’s match-up to go home with a winning record, but they learned early that they would have a tough go of it, as it was the Grizzlies who came out as if they had all downed a few Red Bulls themselves, swarming the visitors with an intense forecheck and generating some early chances on net.
Victoria’s Tyler Welsh (20) and Red Bull’s Niklas Postel (19) battle for position following a faceoff on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That would eventually pay off at the 11:01 mark of the period when the puck found Mitch Barker at the side of the net and he banged one past a sprawling Wouter Peeters, Salzburg’s starting goalie, to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.
Salzburg goaltender Wouster Peeters would stretch in vain for this shot by the Grizzlies Mitch Barker (unseen) that would result in a goal and a 1-0 Grizzlies lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The teams would trade chances after that and hard work by Red Bull would finally pay off at the 12:38 mark of the second period when defenceman Phillip Linder would float a wrist shot through traffic and past the blocker of Grizzlies starting goaltender Mitchell Benson to tie the game 1-1.
Salzburg’s Christoph Korner (97) and Victoria’s PJ Conlon (12) race for a loose puck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
As the period was winding down, the Grizzlies would strike again with just over a minute remaining when forward Nick Guiney took the puck at the blue line, avoided a diving sprawl by a Red Bull defenceman and then rifled a pretty shot past Peeters, giving the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead heading to the break.
Red Bull’s Maximillian Egger (91) makes a power move around the net under pressure from Victoria PJ Conlon (12) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Red Bull would have a great opportunity to even things up early in the third as they started the period on the power play, thanks to a double minor that was assessed to the Grizzlies late in the second. The home side would do a great job penalty killing however and with just a few seconds remaining in the Red Bull power play, Victoria’s Cole Pickup would take advantage of some sloppy play by the Austrians in their own end, scoring shorthanded at the 3:08 mark to put the Grizzlies up 3-1.
Red Bull’s Lukas Kalnz (18) debates his options with pressure from the Grizzlies Alex Peck (61) and Cam Thompson (8) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
While both teams had some good chances after that, Pickup’s goal would round out the scoring and the Grizzlies sent their 1,200 or so fans home happy with the exhibition win.
Despite the loss, Red Bull goal scorer Linder – who was kicked out late in the game for fighting with the Grizzlies’ Brett Stirling – was pleased with the trip and the level of competition that his team faced, “It was great for us to come here and experience the high level of physical play, especially for the younger guys on the team. In Europe, we just don’t see the same level of physicality and is was good for them and us to experience that.”
Red Bull’s Patrik Kittinger (61) circles out of the corner and looks for a pass during third period action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: Cody Van Lierop with a pair, and Brett Stirling, Alex Peck and PJ Conlon counted assists for the Grizzlies. Marek Valek had the lone assist on the Salzburg goal. Brayden Gelsinger did not play for the Grizzlies.
Red Bull’s Niklas Postel (19) and Victoria’s Joseph Visconti (17) battle for position following a third period faceoff Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)