The first game back home after a long road trip is always a killer in hockey. Just ask the Victoria Grizzlies.
Tied for second overall in the B.C. Hockey League going into Friday’s game at The Q Centre, the Grizzlies looked tired and sluggish as a hungry bunch of Bulldogs moved in for the kill. Alberni Valley came back from 2-0 down in the first period to defeat Victoria 5-3.
The Grizzlies (8-5), coming off a three-games-in-three-days road trip from Prince George to Kelowna, opened the scoring thanks mainly to Carter Berger. The veteran blue-liner, who committed to the NCAA’s University of Connecticut Huskies this week, scored goals 24 seconds apart midway through the first period.
But that was where the good news ended for the Grizzlies as they dropped their first game on home ice this season.
Dawson Tritt got the Bulldogs (5-7) on the board with seven minutes left in the opening frame. A minute later, Keaton Mastrodonato got his first of two on the night, this one on a power play, beating Kurtis Chapman after a nice feed from point man Darren Rizzolo.
Alberni got two more in the second period to take control and outshot the Grizzlies 36-21 after 40 minutes.
Ryan Nolan’s breakaway goal with seven minutes left in the third gave the Grizzlies some much-needed life but the Bulldogs hung on from there, getting an empty-netter from Ryan Miotto.
Chapman made 37 stops in the Grizzlies’ net, while Cole Demers made 31 saves to pick up the win for the Bulldogs.
Victoria had its six-game winning streak halted in West Kelowna on Sunday and now they’ll take a two-game skid into Weyerhaeuser Arena Saturday night for the second game of a home-and-home set with the Bulldogs.
LOOSE PUCKS: Grizzlies forward Alex Campbell had his eight-game point streak ended. The 17-year-old leads all BCHL rookies with 16 points. … Following Saturday night's trip to Alberni, the Grizzlies will return home to prepare for another road trip, this time to Nanaimo on Wednesday to face the Clippers. The Grizzlies’ next home game is next Friday, when the Powell River Kings visit The Q Centre.