There was no sign of any letdown from the euphoric Game 5 overtime triumph just two nights earlier as the Grizzlies controlled the B.C. Hockey League Round 2 post-season opener.
“Six games in eight nights — that’s absurd, at any level of reasonable competition, in any sport, that anyone would be forced to play six games in eight nights and seven games in nine. Totally absurd,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick.
“We had an emotional five-game win, and a tough one, and here we are today, starting all over again. It was a good win, but it’s only going to get harder, especially in that unfriendly environment in Alberni.”
The series resumes tonight at 7 at Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni before returning to Victoria for Game 3 on Monday at 7:15 p.m.
It was a tired bunch but so, too, were the Bulldogs, who also played five in six nights.
Pearce Eviston struck first for the Grizzlies on a sweet short-handed marker at 7:10. Cutting in from the right wing, the right-handed shooter slipped it to his backhand and threw it up high over Bulldogs goaltender Jay Deo’s blocker.
Leo Fitzgerald then made it 2-0 on a Victoria power play at 12:15 on a fine cross-crease feed from brother Myles Fitzgerald.
It was a fantastic start for the home side as the Grizzlies stormed Alberni for more than the first half of the stanza. The Bulldogs didn’t get their first shot until 13:29, down 2-0 on the scoreboard and 9-0 on the shot clock.
But shortly thereafter, Shaun Van Allen’s harmless shot wide of the net from the Alberni Valley point bounced off the end boards, flipped back towards the Victoria net and deflected in off defenceman Zach Urban and by goalie Brady Rouleau’s blocker at 15:17.
“Those types of things happen and you never know what’s going to happen once that puck is around the blue paint,” said Bestwick.
“I thought we didn’t give them a whole lot. That first period, we kind of owned it,” he added. “We didn’t capitalize on power plays, which we were so good at all season. If we can ever breakout then things will look up for us even further.”
David Walchuk made it 3-1 Victoria at 4:35 of the second period, shortly after Grizzlies’ defenceman Jaden Schmeisser hit the post, after the puck had glanced off Deo’s glove.
Evan Tironese cut it to 3-2 at 12:16 of the third.
The Grizzlies out-shot the Bulldogs 12-6 and 26-13 by periods and 35-18 overall.
IN THE DEN: The Grizzlies announced they will be bringing in five recruits from the St. Andrew’s College hockey program in Toronto for next season. They include defencemen Rory McGuire and Jacob Kearley, and forwards Adam Moodie, Jay Mackie and Jake Stirling. All five are in town this weekend.
© Copyright 2013