Victoria Grizzlies’ rookies light a fire in overtime win over Caps

The Victoria Grizzlies were without their injured captain on Tuesday night at The Q Centre, but the many rookies on the B.C. Hockey League club said: “Don’t worry Cap, we got this.”

Three of the four goals the Grizzlies scored in a 4-3 overtime win over the Island Division-leading Cowichan Valley Capitals were scored by rookies, and rookie netminder Blake Wood got the win in goal, his first with the Grizzlies.

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Without captain Marty Westhaver for the first time this season, the Grizzlies had just one 20-year-old dressed — defenceman Nico Somerville. Capitals head coach Mike Vandekamp dressed the maximum six 20-year-olds, including former Victoria Royals forward and Colwood product Tanner Sidaway.

The veteran-laden Capitals started slow but took over in the third period, outshooting the Grizzlies 19-2 and scoring two goals to force the overtime.

Not to be outdone by their rookie teammates, the Grizzlies’ veterans took over in the extra session. An end-to-end rush from the smooth-skating Eddie Yan drew a penalty, sending the Grizzlies to just their second power play of the game. And then Yan and Somerville set up Bryce Anderson for a one-timer past Caps netminder Zach Borgiel and the Grizzlies secured their first OT win of the season, improving to 5-9.

The Grizzlies’ rookies got things started for the home team when head coach Craig Didmon’s new-look, all-rookie line of Cody Monds, Brendan Bowie and Chase McInnis — all committed to NCAA schools for 2021 — combined to set up rookie defenceman James Davenport for a high wrister from the slot just two minutes into the game.

Then, late in the period, emergency call-up Andrew Braun from Shawnigan Lake Academy floated in a shot from the blue line for his first BCHL goal.

And the Grizzlies’ rookies weren’t done there. Andrew Amousse got on the other end of a breakaway pass from blue-liner Jake Veilleux and beat Borgiel three minutes into the second period.

The Capitals (10-4-2) aren’t leading the division for no reason. Cowichan shifted gears and took over the game from the midway point. Andy Bridgewater pounced on a turnover in front of Wood and easily beat the rookie netminder. And just two minutes into the third, Matthew Crasa jumped on yet another turnover from a Grizzlies defenceman and fed linemate Luc Wilson for an easy tap-in to quiet The Q Centre crowd. With two minutes left, Will Arguiette fired a high wrister past Wood to earn the visitors a point. Wood made 44 saves to pick up the victory, while Borgiel stopped 22 Grizzlies shots.

Tuesday’s game was the first of four games in six days for the Grizzlies, as they head to Duncan for a rematch with the Capitals on Frida and then host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday night at The Q Centre, followed by a Sunday afternoon home game against the Wenatchee Wild.

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