B.C. HOCKEY LEAGUE: VICTORIA 3, ALBERNI VALLEY 2
Bill Bestwick doesn’t exactly bring to mind Patty Duke, and he will never win an Oscar. But he may just be the 2012-13 B.C. Hockey League version of the Miracle Worker.
The first-year head coach and GM of the Victoria Grizzlies has already matched last season’s entire team total of 21 victories.
The 21st came Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime decision against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at Weyerhaeuser Arena.
“This has been a joint effort involving a lot of people, from the coaches and trainers to the [new] owners,” said Bestwick, who has been no stranger to BCHL success during his many previous seasons on the bench of the Nanaimo Clippers, sending numerous players to the NCAA and several to the pros in the NHL, AHL and ECHL.
“Everyone has been on the same page with the same goals in mind.”
And that was to turn around a listing Grizz ship from 2011-12, that culminated in a firesale at the trade deadline last season that included unloading then-NHL draft prospect Wade Murphy to the Penticton Vees.
The Grizzlies are 21-8-2 and the 11th-ranked Junior A hockey team in Canada. That’s a heady perch, considering where they were last season.
Port Alberni is a plucky group and not easy to put down at 16-11-6.
Victoria’s Jaden Schmeisser ripped a howling shot over the shoulder of Port Alberni goaltender Jay Deo at 1:49 of overtime for the victory last night.
Goals by Myles Fitzgerald, assisted by his brothers Gerry and Leo, had given Victoria a 2-1 lead by the end of the second period. Jared Wilson opened scoring for Alberni Valley with a power-play counter at 6:20 of the opening period.
“I thought we had played well and were full value for our lead,” said Bestwick.
But a goal by Matthew Hansen tied it 2-2 for Alberni Valley at 11:25 of the third period.
“We got into a some penalty trouble and that cost us. But in the end, I felt our character prevailed,” said Bestwick.
It was a sweet return to the Valley for the elusive Fitzgerald triplets, who used to play for the Bulldogs. They swept last night’s three-star awards.
Deo made 29 saves in goal for Alberni Valley while Grizzlies starter Michael Stiladis took the win with 24 saves.
The Grizzlies host the Cowichan Valley Capitals tonight at 6 at Bear Mountain Arena in the last game before the Christmas Break.
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