The Victoria Grizzlies headed up the Malahat to play their first game of 2017 at the Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo against the Clippers on Wednesday night.
An offensive barrage in the first period by the Grizzlies put Nanaimo in a hole they could not dig their way out of, ultimately falling by a final score of 6-2
With the win, the Grizzlies (Now 25-6-3-4, 57 points) have won three straight games and are unbeaten in their last five. They now lead the British Columbia Hockey League’s Island Division by 12 points and have pulled to within three points of top spot in the BCHL occupied by the Wenatchee Wild (60 points).
Nanaimo (Now 14-20-5-1, 34 points) sit fourth in the Island Division having lost their last two games and five of their past six.
The Clippers opened the scoring exactly one minute into the game thanks to Matt Creamer’s 13th goal of the season, but the momentum was short lived.
Victoria evened the game less than two minutes later on Trevor Owens’ first of the year. That was followed moments later Timothy Friedmann’s tenth of the season, which chased Clippers’ starting goaltender Austin Roden after allowing two goals on three shots.
Cole Pickup greeted new netminder Evan DeBrouwer with his first of two goals on the night to increase the lead to 3-1 and finally, Justin Michaelian tallied his sixth of the season on a penalty shot with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period to send Victoria to the first intermission in command with a 4-1 lead.
After a scoreless middle frame, the Grizzlies expanded their lead to 5-1 early in the third thanks to Nathan Looysen’s 13th goal of the year.
Two minutes after David Silye made it 5-2 with his fifth of the year for Nanaimo, Pickup notched his second goal of the game and 17th of the season to bring the game to its final score of 6-2.
Matthew Galajda was strong in goal, stopping 27 of 29 shots in the win for the Grizzlies who were edged in shots by Nanaimo, 29-27.
Evan DeBrouwer allowed four goals on 24 shots after relieving Roden in goal for the Clippers.
The Grizzlies were 1-6 on the powerplay while Nanaimo struggled, going 0-9.
Cole Pickup led all goal scorers with two, and was joined by Nathan Looysen as the game’s leading point-getters (1 G, 1 A) with two points.
The Grizzlies play the third of their five-game road trip on Friday in Langley against the Rivermen.
Victoria’s next home game takes place on January 12 when Nanaimo visits the Q Centre to begin a four game home stand for the Grizzlies.