Despite a downpour outside, the Victoria Grizzlies werent about to let anyone rain on their parade on a damp Sunday afternoon.
The Grizzlies battled back from a 2-0 third-period deficit to down the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-2 in overtime in front of an announced crowd of 936 fans at Bear Mountain Arena.
Port Alberni native Gerry Fitzgerald recorded three assists, setting up Myles Powell for the winner at 1:01 of overtime after he had dished off to brother Leo Fitzgerald for the tying goal on a power play at 14:25 of the third period.
The third triplet, Myles Fitzgerald, got the Grizzlies on the scoreboard at 3:29 of the third.
In the first and second periods, we had a lot of chances that we didnt bury and we were pretty frustrated. We came together as a team and stayed positive, said Gerry, who set up Powell on a 2-on-1 that beat Bulldogs goaltender Brad Rebagliatti.
It was obviously a more tired Alberni club that rolled into town, playing its third game in three days in a matchup that was billed as the battle for first place in the B.C. Hockey Leagues Island Division.
On a day in which it was pouring cats and dogs, the Bulldogs failed to steal the Grizzlies thunder.
Ryan Lough, on a backhand, had the only goal of the first period, coming on a four-on-four at 18:58 of the frame. Then Chris Tracy upped the Alberni advantage to 2-0 on a long snap shot that eluded Victoria netminder Mike Stiliadis on the glove side a shot that he surely should have had.
The Bulldogs had outshot the Grizzlies 24-18 after 40 minutes, despite playing the two previous nights.
They were more tired, I think, said Gerry Fitzgerald. We were a better-conditioned team, and we came out there and just punished them and played hard.
I think, for sure, that it [caught up to them]. We had to take advantage of that. We came out with a little more swagger than we did in the first and second period.
Victoria outshot Alberni 17-6 in the critical third and 2-0 in overtime when Powell finished it.
It was an opportunity for us to take advantage of a team that played [Saturday] night and the night before. We were the beneficiary of the scheduling, said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick. That said, we did the same thing three weeks ago, and things have a way of balancing out.
We did have the legs, and that was evident. All I can say is they played the perfect road game. Thats a really good hockey team, and I tip my cap to them on how good they played today.
The Grizzlies improve to 8-4-0-1 for 17 points after their third overtime victory of the season. The Bulldogs are 7-5-0-2 for 16 points, having played one more game than Victoria, which fought back yet again, after defeating the Penticton Vees 3-2 in double overtime on Friday.
If there was a negative on Sunday, it was the Grizzlies power play that struggled again, but Leo Fitzgerald did manage to tie it on the man advantage that went 1-for-6 on the afternoon against an aggressive Bulldogs penalty kill.
We didnt react to it as well as I wish we did. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to get better on our power play, no question, said Bestwick.
Victoria returns to action on Friday at home against Trail.
IN THE DEN: It was Grizzlies defenceman Justin Coachmans first game back after an eight-game suspension. Coachman nailed Evan Anderson late in second period to give the hosts a bit of a spark, but that was taken away when Turner Lawson was sent to the showers on a major for a hit to head, which brings with it a game misconduct. Lawson likely nets a two-game suspension for the major.
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