St. Louis might not seem the obvious place to look for hockey talent. But T.J. Friedmann would care to disagree. The six-foot-three native of the Missouri metropolis scored twice to lead the Victoria Grizzlies to a 5-2 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday night at the Q Centre as the B.C. Hockey League club rolled to 18-5-5.
Nanaimo fell to 11-14-4.
“It was a good all-round effort,” said Friedmann, who now has six goals in 11 games since joining the Grizzlies from the Detroit Victory Honda U-18 team three weeks ago.
“I haven’t been here long. But it seems when we play our game as a unit, we do well.”
Nathan Looysen opened the scoring on Victoria’s first shot just 47 seconds into the game. That wasn’t a good sign for Nanaimo as the Grizzlies are now 14-1-2 when scoring first.
Friedmann connected at 7:58 for his fifth power-play goal in his brief time with the Grizzlies as the first period ended 2-0.
That extended NCAA-bound Victoria goaltender Matthew Galajda’s shutout streak against the Clippers to four consecutive periods. Galajda, headed next year to Cornell of the Ivy League, blanked the Clippers 1-0 on Friday night in the first game of the back-to-back set in the Harbour City.
Nanaimo forward Tate Coughlin finally solved Galajda at 9:20 of the second period on the power play to pull the Clippers to within one. Friedmann restored Victoria’s two-goal lead at 10:29 of the second period.
Defenceman Brett Stirling made it 4-1 with an unassisted goal in the third period. Matt Kowalski of Nanaimo and Victoria’s Jake Stevens, the latter into an empty net, closed out scoring. The blueliner Stevens had an outstanding night with a goal and two assists and showed why he is headed next season to St. Lawrence of the NCAA.
“We have four returnees and a lot of experience on our defence,” said Stevens, of Victoria’s potent back line.
Diminutive, but pound-for-pound solid, Victoria rookie defenceman Dane Finnson laid one of the most lacerating checks of the season on Nanaimo forward David Eccles in the third period. It happened in the Clippers zone, to make it even more impressive for the Victoria rearguard.
It appeared shoulder to chest. But veteran Nanaimo coach Mike Vandekamp disagreed, too vehemently as it turned out, and was given a game misconduct.
Finnson’s check engendered a bit of skirmish, and another ensued later in the third period as matters got testy.
Galajda finished with 22 saves while the Grizzlies put 37 shots on Nanaimo goaltenders Evan Debrouwer and Austin Roden.
The Grizzlies now embark on a four-game road trip beginning Friday in Prince George against the Spruce Kings.