The betting going into the third period at Bear Mountain Arena on Sunday afternoon was over what, or who, was going to get tossed first. Would it be the teddy bears fans brought along for the annual charity promotion or would it be Victoria Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick?
Upset with some questionable officiating throughout the matchup, Bestwick managed to make it through the final 20 minutes, although steam was building up behind his bench.
Myles Powell made sure the team didnt get shut out, like last season, during the promotion, in which fans get to toss stuffed animals onto the ice when the home team scores its first goal. The toys are collected and handed to charity.
But the end result was a 5-1 loss to the Langley Rivermen.
Victoria was down 4-0 when Powell scored a shorthanded, unassisted goal just 17 seconds into the final frame to set off the bear barrage before 1,311 fans. They didnt get their win, but at least they got to experience the toss, not having to wait till games end, like last year.
Bestwick, meanwhile, was left to stew.
Not too many people think Im a teddy bear, Bestwick said. But if I was a mascot, I might have thrown myself on the ice.
I dont think Ive called a ref over this year more than once in a game, and havent spoken to most of them all season long. I didnt find today to be something that was adequate for this level, he added, biting his tongue.
The loss didnt come as a total surprise.
It was the third game in three days for the Grizzlies, a battered team coming in with Blake Thompson, Justin Coachman, Mitch Meek, Leo Fitzgerald, Turner Lawson, Brett Hartskamp and Garrett Skrbich out of the lineup.
It certainly wasnt our best outing. Our first period was fine. Our legs were OK at the time, but as the game progressed you could see we didnt have much in the tank and we needed to score early, said Bestwick. We didnt and we paid the price.
We were missing some players and we were tired, but all those things come off as excuses. They are real, though. Its a fact, and we werent at our best here.
Langley, at 10-12-0-4, came in with the second-worst record in the BCHL, well behind the now 17-8-0-2 Grizz. But Mario Puskarich put the visitors up 1-0 on a power play just 4:32 in as the Grizzlies were handed a too-many-men call.
The goal came on Langleys first shot, down 5-1 in that category but up 1-0 on the scoreboard.
James Robinson, Evan Anderson and Pushkarich, with his second, made it 4-0 in the second as Mike Stiliadis allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting the hook. He did make a remarkable glove save off a 2-on-1 late in the second, diving across the ice to his left.
With anxiety increasing in the stands, Powell finally got the Grizzlies on the board, but thats as close as it got in a paddling by the Rivermen, who were coming off a 4-3 loss in Alberni Valley on Saturday night.
Austin Azurdia had the other goal for the Rivermen, who scored three times on the man advantage. Azurdias goal came after a non-call at the other end of the ice, which just added to Bestwicks frustration.
The loss snaps a two-game win streak as the Grizzlies were 7-2-1 over the last 10 games.
Victoria, which travels to Powell River on Friday before returning to face Surrey at home on Saturday at 7:15 p.m, had affiliated players Shawn McBride, Sam Rice, Brady Coulter and Brandon Egli in the lineup Sunday afternoon.
Brady Rouleau replaced Stiliadis in net for the third as the Grizzlies out-shot the Rivermen 35-24.
It was just Langleys second road win of the year.
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