The Victoria Grizzlies showed Friday night that they’re a dangerous team in a run-and-gun game.
On Saturday night, the B.C. Hockey League’s top offence showed they can win a tough, grind it out battle as well as they withstood a strong, physical shut-down game from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to come away with a 5-0 victory and a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Island Division semifinal.
Twenty-four hours after pummeling the Bulldogs with 53 shots and winning 8-3, the Grizzlies saw a much different Alberni team Saturday and had to wait until midway through the second period before captain Alex Newhook got the offence on track, beating John Hawthorne with a high wrister from the slot to ignite the 1,110 in attendance at The Q Centre.
Newhook and fellow 18-year-old top NHL prospect Alex Campbell then teamed up to set up Nico Somerville late in the period to send the Grizzlies on their way.
The Bulldogs had seen enough of No. 18 in white, who led the BCHL in scoring in the regular season with 102 points and now has seven points after two playoff games, after that and started to lay the body and lumber on the St. John’s, N.L., product who’s expected to go in the first round of this June’s NHL draft. That didn’t sit well with the Grizzlies, especially when Bulldogs’ blue-liner Marcus Walter hacked Newhook to the ice late in the second, bringing in Ryan Nolan and Carter Berger to their captain’s rescue. End result was Walter exiting with a game misconduct, and the series racheted up another level.
“We’re a finesse hockey team, but we’re also big and strong so if you want to get physical, we’re more than ready to answer that bell as well,” said Grizzlies GM and coach Craig Didmon.
Kenny Johnson, Kyle McGrath on the power play, and Alex Campbell had third-period goals for the Grizzlies.
Kurtis Chapman stopped all 22 shots he faced. Hawthorne finished with 37 saves.
The series now moves to Port Alberni for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
LOOSE PUCKS: In the other Island Division series, the Nanaimo Clippers evened their series with the Powell River Kings with a 2-1 win Saturday at Hap Parker Arena. The series now moves to Nanaimo with Game 3 on Tuesday night.