The Victoria Grizzlies received timely contributions from offensive leaders Tyler Welsh and Cole Pickup on Saturday night on their way to defeating the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 4-2.
The game was the Grizzlies second a three game in three-day road trip that had them in Chilliwack on Friday and will take them to Trail on Sunday.
Victoria (10-2-2-3-2) was looking to extend their lead in the British Columbia Hockey League’s Island Division, coming in to Saturday with 25 points, one point ahead of the Powell River Kings.
The Silverbacks (8-10-0-0-2) began the night with 16 points, fifth place in the Interior Division, which is led with 30 points by the top team in the entire BCHL, the Penticton Vees.
The Grizzlies were riding a three-game win streak into Saturday and a five-game unbeaten string (3-0-0-1-1).
Recenly acquired goaltender Tony Rehm made his Grizzlies debut on Saturday, looking to help extend the team’s winning ways and continue the trend of strong work in the nets set by starter Matthew Galajda who was spelled in the second of three games in three days for the team.
Rehm, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, was acquired from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League on October 17 in a trade that sent goaltender Mitchell Benson to Brooks.
The Silverbacks would open the scoring five minutes in when a turnover put the puck on the stick of Connor Sundquist who then wired his eighth goal of the season behind Rehm to giving Salmon Arm the early 1-0 lead.
Salmon Arm goaltender Trevin Kozlowski made the lead hold up for almost the entire first period but a tremendous solo effort by Tyler Welsh, banging home his own rebound for his seventh goal of the season with just six seconds remaining in the period, tied the game at one entering the first intermission.
Before the ice was dry in the second, the Grizzlies took the lead back when Nathan Looysen buried his sixth tally of the year 90 seconds in, to take a 2-1.
The balance of the second period passed with no further scoring as Rehm and Kozlowski went save-for-save to carry the game through 40 minutes with the Grizzlies ahead by a goal.
A significant moment occurred late in the period when Victoria’s Justin Michaelian took a hard hit and was forced to leave the game and did not return.
The Grizzlies received a five-minute powerplay that carried into the third period as a result of the hit on Michaelian, with Salmon Arm’s Carson Bolduc assessed a major penalty for kneeing.
Once again, Victoria scored early in a period, taking a 3-1 lead on Timothy Friedmann’s powerplay goal, his first of the season, 54 seconds into the third.
The Silverbacks would kill off the remainder of the major penalty. Penalty killing was a strong suit for Salmon Arm on this night, negating three of four Victoria man advantages, allowing them to hang around.
The home team drew to within a goal when Jared Turcotte drove his fifth goal of the season by Rehm cutting Victoria’s lead to 3-2 with less than eleven minutes remaining.
Victoria would restore their two-goal lead just minutes later when a pass from Cole Pickup sprung Tyler Welsh on a breakaway and he made no mistake, potting his second goal of the night and his third point.
The goal put the Grizzlies up 4-2 and gave Pickup his second assist of the night, moving him into third place alone in BCHL scoring with 27 points.
The Grizzlies fended off a last gasp effort from Salmon Arm with thei net empty in the final moments to hang on for the 4-2 win.
Tony Rehm made 21 saves for the win in his Grizzlies and BCHL debut. Victoria outshot the Silverbacks in all three periods for a final total of 35-23.
Tyler Welsh led all scorers with his two goals and three points for the Grizzlies.
The win gives Victoria (11-2-2-3-2) four consecutive victories and 27 points keeping them one point ahead of Powell River in the Island Division. The Cowichan Valley Capitals now sit third in the division, four points back as they dropped their third straight game, 3-2 to the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday.
Victoria now travels to Trail where they will conclude their busy weekend with a 3:00pm start against the Smoke Eaters.
The Grizzlies are back home on Friday, November 4 when Alberni Valley returns to the Q Centre in Victoria for the second time this season. The Vernon Vipers visit the Grizzlies the following night, November 5. Puck drop both nights is 7:00pm.