It’s not often a team comes away from a loss with plenty of positives, but that’s exactly what the Victoria Grizzlies did as they arrived home early Monday morning following a 4-1 B.C. Hockey League defeat at the hands of the Warriors in West Kelowna on Sunday afternoon.
Playing their third game in less than three days on the road, the Grizzlies started Sunday’s contest a little slow, getting outshot 10-4 in the opening period and falling behind 1-0 after a Bennet Norlin goal gave the Warriors the lead.
But the Grizzlies (8-4), winners of six straight games going into Sunday’s action, came to life in the second after Alex Newhook set up Alex Campbell for a goal to draw the Grizzlies even.
And just when the Grizzlies were taking over the game, a parade to the penalty box began that halted the flow of the game. The Grizzlies would end the game being shorthanded 10 times with two 10-minute misconducts added on, while the Warriors (6-5) were assessed six minor penalties.
“We had five straight kills there at one time and when that happens it make it very tough to get anything going offensively,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon, whose team had beaten Prince George and Salmon Arm the previous two nights.
“But I give our guys credit, because they kept their composure after some very questionable calls and gave themselves a chance to win at the end until they got the empty-netter.
“At one time we had six guys in the box at the same time so the game becomes mentally draining for a lot of the players when that happens, so it was good to see how we reacted and we were the better team by far at five-on-five so I was impressed despite not getting the two points and keeping the winning streak going. But now we focus on starting another streak.”
Like they did all road trip, the Grizzlies were led Sunday by a pair of talented 17-year-olds. Newhook and Campbell, both expected to be selected in the 2019 NHL draft, had points in all three road games. Newhook, committed to Boston College of the NCAA, moved into second overall in league scoring with 16 points, while Campbell, who is a Clarkson University commit, sits seventh in BCHL scoring with 14 points.
“Newhook was of course outstanding on Saturday getting the tying goal and winner in overtime, and both Newhook and Campbell were strong all weekend, so to be led by two 17-year-olds is a very good sign for us,” said Didmon.
After being spelled off on Saturday by rookie Keenan Rancier, veteran Kurtis Chapman was back between the pipes on Sunday for the Grizzlies and stopped 32 of 35 Warriors’ shots. Brock Baier made 29 saves in the West Kelowna net.
The Grizzlies now prepare for a home-and-home set with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs beginning Friday night at The Q Centre.
LOOSE PUCKS: Grizzlies winger Ryan Nolan was assessed his third hit-to-the-head penalty of the season on Sunday, which could result in an automatic three-game suspension. But the Grizzlies have sent video into the league office and Didmon expects one or more of the penalties to be changed to a regular minor penalty so Nolan could be eligible to play on Friday.