Alex Newhook helps keep Victoria Grizzlies in high gear

Special players do, well, special things.

Alex Newhook again showed why he is projected for the first round of the 2019 NHL draft as he was involved in all four goals — scoring a hat trick and assisting on the other goal — as the Victoria Grizzlies defeated the Merritt Centennials 4-1 in B.C. Hockey League play on Sunday at The Q Centre.

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“Alex rises to the challenge, especially against good teams, which is what good players do,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.

The Centennials (31-15-7) are second in the Interior Division. The Grizzlies moved to 33-16-4 atop the Island Division, seven points clear of the Powell River Kings, who have a game in hand and were to make that up on Monday night against the West Kelowna Warriors.

Newhook was named BCHL player of the week Monday for the second consecutive week, only the third player to accomplish that feat in BCHL history. The native of St. John’s, N.L., had nine points in three games and was involved in three-quarters of the 12 goals the Grizzlies scored during the week.

Newhook, likely headed to Boston College of the NCAA next fall, has pretty much blown open the race for the BCHL scoring title with 90 points in 49 games, which is a whopping 17 points clear of second-place Ryan Brushett of Powell River.

The quick and elusive Newhook is known as much as a playmaker as a sniper, but is also in the thick of the league goals race with 34, two behind Brushett’s leading 36.

On a team loaded with players ranked by Central Scouting for this summer’s NHL draft in Vancouver, including second-round projected Alex Campbell, it was some of the more unsung players on the team Didmon pointed to as being the building blocks to victory Sunday.

“Our role guys really played hard and it was a team effort with a lot of attention to detail,” said Didmon.

While much of glory on the Grizzlies’ blue line falls upon NHL draft-projected Carter Berger and Jeremie Bucheler, Didmon mentioned also the play Sunday of less heralded defencemen Cole Noble and Kenny Johnson.

“Cam Thompson’s penalty killing was also very important for us,” said Didmon, of a unit which held the usually-potent Centennials to no goals allowed in four power-power play chances.

New York Rangers draft pick Riley Hughes had a goal and assist to be named second star of the game.

Crease play was also strong with Victoria goaltender Kurtis Chapman making 31 saves to be selected third star. The 20-year-old over-ager was named an honourable mention for BCHL player of the week with 55 saves on 57 shots in two Victoria wins. The Calgary native improved his record to 24-9 with a 2.34 goals-against average.

The Grizzlies travel over the Malahat on Wednesday to play the Island Division-trailing Cowichan Valley Capitals (16-31-6) at the Stick in Duncan.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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