Alberni Bulldogs fend off Victoria Grizzlies

Just like the last time the Victoria Grizzlies were at Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni, the third period was the story on Friday night against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

On Jan. 17 in Alberni, the Grizzlies gave up four goals in the third period to lose 5-0, and Friday night the Grizzlies trailed 1-0 in the final frame again, only to score two quick goals to take the lead before the host Bulldogs drew even and then struck early in overtime to dump the Grizzlies 3-2.

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Mitch Deelstra scored on Grizzlies rookie netminder Blake Wood just 30 seconds into the extra period to give the Bulldogs (24-18-3) the victory in the third consecutive games between the teams.

After Matthew Grouchy gave the ’Dogs a 1-0 lead 8:46 into the first, the two teams locked it down until the 5:47 mark of the third period when Alex DiPaolo struck on a Grizzlies’ power play to start the fireworks. Twenty seconds later, Henri Schreifels scored to give Victoria a brief lead, before Ryan Doolin even things up just 25 seconds later.

Wood finished with 43 saves, while Luke Pearson made 29 stops in the Bulldogs’ net.

The Grizzlies (17-29-1) are back in action today when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Military Appreciation Night at The Q Centre. Then they get a couple of days off before hosting the West Kelowna Warriors on Tuesday night at The Q Centre.

LOOSE PUCKS: The B.C. Hockey League on Friday finalized its playoff format for this season, tweaking last year’s format that saw the last-place team in the Coastal Conference cross over and become the eighth-place team in the Interior if it had more points than the last-place Interior team. This season, there are three ‘wild card teams’ near the bottom of the standings.

So, if the season ended Friday, the Prince George Spruce Kings (last in the Mainland Division), Grizzlies (last in the Island Division) and West Kelowna (sixth in the Interior Division) would form the sixth, seventh and eighth seeds in the Interior Division, leaving the Merritt Centennials (last in the Interior) as the lone team to miss the post-season.

The first round of the playoffs would then see the Interior seventh-seeded Grizzlies take on the Trail Smoke Eaters, who sit second in the Interior Division.

The top teams in the Island and Mainland divisions continue to play first-vs.-fourth and second-vs.-third in the first round of the playoffs. All first-round matchups are best-of-seven series.

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