The Victoria Grizzlies were in control from the very first shot in a 5-2 win over the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday night.
Nathan Looysen scored on the game’s first shot and T.J. Friendmann added a pair to help Victoria win their second straight game over the Clippers in the back half of a home-and-home series at the Q Centre in Victoria.
The Grizzlies (17-5-2-3, 39 points) regained a two-point lead over the Powell River Kings in the BCHL’s Island Division with Friday’s 1-0 shutout victory in Nanaimo combined with a Kings loss, 6-4 at the hands of the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Nanaimo (11-13-3-1, 26 points) remained fourth in the Island Division following the loss, now trailing third place Cowichan Valley by six points.
It took nearly 40 minutes for Nathan Looysen and the Grizzlies to find the scoreboard on Friday in Nanaimo against Clippers’ goaltender Evan DeBrouwer.
Looysen did it on the first shot of the game on Saturday in Victoria, burying his ninth goal of the year just 47 seconds in, top corner past Austin Roden who started in net for Nanaimo on Saturday.
A powerplay marker by T.J. Friedmann, his fifth goal of the season, gave the Grizzlies a two-goal lead, prompting a goalie switch for Nanaimo, with DeBrouwer replacing Roden after two goals on six shots.
DeBrouwer, who made 28 saves on 29 shots on Friday, stemmed the tide on Saturday, giving Nanaimo a chance to get back into the game. They did just that, pulling to within a goal midway through the game on Tate Coughlin’s third goal of the season.
Nanaimo’s momentum was brief as Friedmann struck 69 seconds later for his second goal of the night, restoring the Grizzlies two-goal lead through two periods.
The Grizzlies began to pull away early in the third thanks to an unassisted goal from Brett Stirling, his second of the season giving the home team a 4-1 lead.
With less than three minutes remaining, Nanaimo pulled to within a pair when Matt Kowalski fired home his seventh goal of the year on a breakaway with Shawn Guison drawing the assist.
That was as close as they would come as goaltender Galajda was strong for the second straight night for Victoria making 22 saves in the 5-2 win.
DeBrouwer made 33 saves on 35 shots for Nanaimo.
Jake Stevens potted the empty netter, short-handed in the final seconds.
Victoria outshot the Clippers 42-24 while going 1-6 on the powerplay and held Nanaimo scoreless on the man advantage for the second straight game, killing off all three chances.
T.J. Friedmann led all skaters with his two goals. Jake Stevens led the way with three points (1, 2).
With the win, the Grizzlies (18-5-2-3, 41 points) remain alone atop the BCHL’s Island Division.
The Grizzlies begin a four-game road trip beginning next Friday, December 2 against the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Victoria’s next home game is Saturday, December 10 at 7:00pm when the Wenatchee Wild (20-5-1, 41 points, 2nd in BCHL, ranked #15 in CJHL) visit the Q Centre for a marquee matchup