Seventh heaven: Grizzlies are movin’ on

VICTORIA 2
POWELL RIVER 1 (2OT)
(Grizzlies win series 4-3)

It seems only fitting that Game 7 of the Island Division final would go to double overtime.

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Keyvan Mokhtari scored at 57 seconds of the second extra session to give the Victoria Grizzlies a 2-1 victory over the Powell River kings in front of 1,705 fans at The Q Centre on Monday night, easily the biggest crowd of the B.C. Hockey League season for the hosts.

His long wrister beat goalie Brian Wilson for his first goal of the post-season.

“It was a surreal experience for me,” Mokhtari said. “That was my first overtime winner.

“To see all the boys come off the bench was unreal.”

No team had won two straight games in this series until this night and this was the third overtime in seven games. Victoria had lost Games 1 and 5 at home.

Victoria advances to face the Chilliwack Chiefs in the semifinals, while the Penticton Vees, who defeated the Merritt Centennials 6-2 in the other Game 7 on Monday, will face the Vernon Vipers. The next series gets underway Friday and Saturday in Chilliwack and is expected to take a 2-3-2 format. Game 3 will be in Colwood on Tuesday.

Curtis McCarrick, who was ejected after taking his third stick infraction of the night in the second period in Game 6, opened the scoring on a power play at 5:44 of the first period for the Kings, who had captain Jake Kohlhauser back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game due to an injury.

Jamie Rome tied it for Victoria with 41.5 seconds left in the opening frame as he finished off Cole Pickup’s pass from behind the net. Pickup had taken a double minor for high sticking to set up Powell River’s first goal.

Grizzlies defenceman Dayne Finnson appeared to have given the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead with just six minutes remaining in the third period, but he knocked the net off before the puck went in.

Matthew Galajda made 36 saves for Victoria, while Wilson thwarted 35 for the Kings.

It was yet another chapter in Grizzlies-kings clashes. Victoria lost to the Kings in six games in the 2014-15 playoffs, including a 5-4 double overtime setback in the clincher in Game 6 in Colwood.

The year previous, Victoria bounced back from a 3-1 games deficit to defeat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the opening series with Pickup earning an assist on Shawn McBride’s double-overtime winner before beating Powell River in six games in Round 2.

Victoria lost all three games it played in the next round.

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