Red-hot Victoria Grizzlies prove too much for Cowichan Valley Capitals

VICTORIA 5  COWICHAN VALLEY 2

A virus kept Mark McLellan away from practice this past week.

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The way it’s going, the Victoria Grizzlies’ captain should take more rest days for the B.C. Hockey League club.

McLellan scored twice Wednesday night to pace his Grizzlies to a 5-2 victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The 19-year-old Surrey native now has 12 points in his last 11 games as he battles a bug that is going through the team.

“I know, this sickness has almost been a blessing for me,” McLellan said with a smirk. “I’m just trying to get better. It’s been a good roll for me.”

It was Victoria’s fifth straight win and a sixth consecutive defeat for the Capitals as the teams head in different directions. The Grizzlies are finding their stride as they were also 8-1-1-1 in their last 11 road games during a tough stretch in the schedule. Included in there was a three-game sweep last weekend.

“That’s five in a row and what’s especially nice is coming back home for a win on a Wednesday night,” said McLellan.

The Grizzlies, now 16-7-2-1, remain two points back of Powell River both in the Island Division and in the overall standings, but the Kings — who defeated Nanaimo 3-2 on Wednesday and are in Alberni Valley tonight — have three games in hand.

On Wednesday, Cowichan opened the scoring before a small crowd at Bear Mountain Arena as Kyle Horsman buried the team’s first shot, just 6:23 in, behind Victoria netminder Nic Renyard. McLellan tied it on a power play just over five minutes later and Myles Fitzgerald gave the hosts a 2-1 lead at 15:35.

McLellan added his second 46 seconds into the second before Jesse Neher replied four minutes later for Cowichan Valley.

Cole Pickup had the goal of the night, going outside-in on the defenceman and burying the puck top corner on goalie Robin Gusse late in the second to restore the two-goal lead. Matt Martin, in his first game as a Grizzly, deflected in a puck early in the third or the final goal.

Jay Mackie had two assists for the Grizzlies and Garrett Forster had a helper for his seventh point in just four games with the club.

The two teams return to play in Duncan on Friday night before the Grizzlies venture to Powell River on Saturday night for a big test. Victoria’s next home game is Nov. 30, at Bear Mountain Arena, when the organization will hold its annual teddy bear toss and food bank collection.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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