ALBERNI VALLEY 4
A depleted, rag-tag bunch of Victoria Grizzlies gave the Alberni Valley Bulldogs a serious scare Friday night, but the visitors hung on to edge the Grizzlies 4-3 in front of 1,191 in attendance at The Q Centre.
The Grizzlies, who had won four straight games on home ice coming into Friday night, were missing six players due to injuries and one to suspension, but Victoria gave a furious push late in the third with captain Marty Westhaver hitting the post with 25 seconds remaining.
Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon was forced to call up two Junior B players — Johnny Houlding from the Westshore Wolves and Tynan Peacock from the Campbell River Storm — and Chase Barlow from the major midget South Island Royals.
While they held their own, a Grizzlies defensive corps missing veterans Brady MacDonald and Reid Lindsay and star rookie James Davenport, was no match for the older Bulldogs forward, but time and again Victoria rookie netminder Blake Wood stood his ground, giving his team a chance at victory.
Alberni jumped on the young Grizzlies early, outshooting Victoria 18-3 in the first period and getting goals from Olivier Fizet and Jackson Doucet to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The Grizzlies’ power play gave the home team some much-needed life midway through the second period.
Vincent Nardone got things started, blasting a one-timer past Bulldogs netminder Luke Pearson with the Grizzlies on a two-man advantage. Thirty-nine seconds later, on a one-man advantage, Andrew Amousse tipped in a Chase McInnis point shot to stun the Bulldogs and tie the game.
But just nine seconds later, Jacob Bosse fired a wrister past Wood to give the Bulldogs (15-12-2) control again.
Bosse added another one late in the second for the Bulldogs, who were minus their head coach, Joe Martin, who is away coaching Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John. Just when the ’Dogs thought the Grizzlies would go quietly, Amousse pounced on a Brendan Bowie rebound to cut the Alberni lead to one with nine minutes left in regulation.
Wood finished with 28 saves, while Pearson also made 28 stops.
The Grizzlies (11-22) now get today off before playing host to the Surrey Eagles on Sunday afternoon at The Q Centre. The Eagles (11-16-5) fell 5-1 to the Kings in Powell River on Friday night.
LOOSE PUCKS: The other injured Grizzlies were goaltender Liam Souliere and forward Eddie Yan and Trevor Bishop. Henri Schreifels sat out the first of a two-game suspension.