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Pirtle sends the fur flying but Bucks get the win over Grizzlies

It took a player from Far Hills, New Jersey, to ignite the Teddy Bear Toss, a Christmas tradition in Canadian junior hockey rinks across the country.

Pirtle patience was a virtue Saturday night at the Q Centre for the Victoria Grizzlies, but it was the Cranbrook Bucks who had the last word in a 2-1 B.C. Hockey League shootout victory.

The Grizzlies made their fans wait until deep into the second period to unleash the flurry of fur in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game for charity. Anderson Chase Pirtle scored at 16:36 of the second period for Victoria’s, and the game’s, first goal to trigger the avalanche of stuffed toys from the 1,209 fans at the Q Centre.

It took a player from Far Hills, New Jersey, to ignite the Teddy Bear Toss, a Christmas tradition in Canadian junior hockey rinks across the country. It was the 15th goal of the season for Pirtle, who is committed to the Cornell Big Red of the NCAA.

Jacob Fletcher tied the game for Cranbrook (10-13-1) at 13:07 of the third period before the Bucks got the best of the Grizzlies (15-8-1) in the shootout on Julian Frias’ deciding goal.

Meanwhile, defenceman Nathan King of the Grizzlies, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Merrimack, was selected on the initial roster for the 2024 BCHL all-star tournament Jan. 20 in Penticton on an outdoor rink.

League-leading scorer Nicholas Beneteau and goaltender Callum Tung from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, NCAA Div. 1-bound respectively to St. Lawrence and UConn, forward Matthew Swanson of the Cowichan Valley Capitals and defencemen Brett Merner from the Nanaimo Clippers and Will Jones from the Powell River Kings were also selected.

Each team has one skater represented on the initial roster, plus an additional two goaltenders were voted in from each conference. A vote was conducted among coaches and GMs from the 17 BCHL teams.

The rosters will eventually be split into four teams of six skaters and one goaltender and will compete in a 3-on-3 outdoor tournament.

The seven remaining spots are for the fans to decide through balloting at the BCHL website. Pirtle was the Grizzlies player nominated for the fan vote. Also nominated are Hayden Stavroff of Alberni Valley, Brady Yakesh of Cowichan Valley, Willyam Gendron of Nanaimo and Noah Eyre of Powell River.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com