The Victoria Grizzlies finally removed the monkey that was the Cowichan Valley Capitals from their backs Saturday night.
Jesse Schwartz and Mark McLellan each had a pair of goals to carry the Grizzlies to an impressive 7-2 victory over the Capitals in front of 1,452 fans at Bear Mountain Arena. It was Victoria’s first win in four chances over their Island Division rivals.
The Capitals edged the Grizzlies 2-1 on Friday night in Duncan.
“It’s nice to score more than a couple of goals,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick. “It’s an interesting thing, junior hockey. I don’t think we played our best game, but we scored the most goals we’ve scored this year against a team that’s had our number.
“We’ll take the victory,” added Bestwick. “We’re happy to level the playing field for the weekend with two big points.”
Schwartz had several chances early in the game, but it was Dane Gibson who opened the scoring for Cowichan as he deked to his backhand to beat Grizzlies’ goaltender Alec Dillon at 12:18 of the first period.
McLellan, the Grizzlies captain, then dragged the puck across the crease and slipped it to his backhand to beat Robin Gusse through the legs to tie it at 1-1 at 15:30 of the first.
Schwartz then made good on his fifth chance of the opening stanza to give Victoria a 2-1 lead at 17:01 as the hosts outshot Cowichan 17-9 in the opening 20 minutes.
Gibson tied it again with his second of the night — and third in two evenings — early in the second for the Capitals. But Schwartz restored the lead at 9:39 and the Grizzlies never looked back.
Storm Wahlrab and Cole Pickup added goals off rebounds to make it 5-2, the latter forcing a goalie change as Gusse was pulled in favour of Francis Marotte.
Shawn McBride added a power-play goal for Victoria in the third as the Grizzlies had the Capitals off their game.
“I think every night we want to get pucks in deep and we want to be able to forecheck and that seems to be the key to our game. We want to limit their skilled forwards from spending any long shifts in our zone,” said Capitals’ assistant coach Rob DeClark.
They failed to do so on Saturday.
Victoria travels to Chilliwack, Langley and Coquitlam this coming weekend and the Capitals are in Powell River today.