Victoria tops Clippers 5-2, extend division lead to seven points

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The Victoria Grizzlies offense continued to fire on all cylinders in a rare midweek clash with the Nanaimo Clippers on Wednesday in the Harbour City.

Five different Grizzlies found the back of the net in the third meeting of the season with the Clippers and four skaters had multi-point nights, pacing Victoria to a 5-2 victory.

The Grizzlies (20-5-3-3, 46 points) entered Wednesday on the heels of their largest offensive output of the season, erupting for eight goals in an 8-2 win over the Coquitlam Express on Sunday.

A 4-0-1 record in their last five games has propelled Victoria to a five-point lead in the Island Division of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Nanaimo(12-14-5-1, 30 points) sit fourth in the Island Division, having been swept in a home-and-home series against the Grizzlies on November 25-26.

Victoria struck twice in a strong opening period thanks to goals from Jamie Rome, his ninth of the season, and T.J. Friedmann, his eighth of the year as the visitors took a 2-0 lead to the intermission.

Friedmann’s tally came with just 20 seconds left in the first period and the Grizzlies carried that momentum into the second, scoring twice more in a span of 27 seconds, seizing control of the game with a 4-0 lead before the second period was four minutes old.

Goals in the middle period came from Justin Michaelian, his fifth of the season, and Keyvan Mokhtari’s 13th of the year.

Victoria then began to clamp down with a large lead on the road with each team recording just six shots on goal in the second frame.

Nanaimo finished with a strong third period, scoring twice, but it was too little too late with the game already effectively out of reach.

Clippers goal scoring came from Matt Kowalski’s eighth of the season in the opening moments of the third, and David Silye’s fourth midway through the period.

Between the two Nanaimo markers was Brett Stirling’s third of the season for Victoria.

Tony Rehm made his second consecutive start in goal for the Grizzlies, making 25 saves on 27 shots in the win.

Evan DeBrouwer started in net for Nanaimo and allowed three goals on 12 shots.  Austin Roden came on in relief following the Michaelian goal in the second period and made nine saves on 11 shots as the Clippers outshot the Grizzlies 27-23 in defeat.

Nanaimo was 1-2 on the powerplay while the Grizzlies went scoreless in three chances.

Five different players scored for Victoria and four different players recorded two points apiece. With two assists in the game, Cole Pickup extended his point-scoring streak to five games (1G, 6A).

The win extends the division lead for the Grizzlies (21-5-3-3, 48 points) to a season-high seven points over the Powell River Kings.

The Grizzlies now return home for a two-game home stand this Saturday and Sunday in Victoria. On Saturday, they welcome the Mainland Division-leading Wenatchee Wild to the Q Centre for a 7:00pm puck drop, and Nanaimo pays a visit at 2:00pm on Sunday.

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