WEST KELOWNA 4 - VICTORIA 1
The Victoria Grizzlies were looking forward to the B.C. Hockey League Showcase in Chilliwack, heading into the annual event undefeated at 5-0.
But they come home wishing they never went.
The Grizzlies’ high-powered offence was shut down for the second straight day Friday as the West Kelowna Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 4-1, leaving Victoria winless at the Showcase and returning to the Island with a 5-2 record.
After losing 3-2 to the Prince George Spruce Kings on Thursday night, the Grizzlies were looking to get back to their winning ways Friday, but the Warriors (4-1) had other plans.
The Warriors’ power play came into the game last in the BCHL at 0-for-15, but it came to life against Victoria as the Warriors scored three goals with the man advantage.
And if their poor penalty killing wasn’t enough for the Grizzlies, they even put the puck in their own empty net while on a late-game power play. Grizzlies captain Ellis Rickwood passed the puck back to Isack Bandu at the point, but the puck hopped over Bandu’s stick and slid all the way back into the Grizzlies’ vacated net as netminder Kyle Kelsey had been pulled for an extra attacker with four minutes remaining in the third.
“ It was a tough two days against two really good teams who were up for the challenge of playing us,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
“We were a little fatigued today and add in penalty trouble and that’s a bad recipe.”
The Grizzlies’ big line of Rickwood, Matthew Wood and BCHL leading scorer Connor Eddy was held off the score sheet on Thursday night, but got the Grizzlies only goal Friday with Rickwood setting up the 16-year-old Wood for his league-leading ninth goal of the season late in the first to tie the game at 1-1.
“We’re a young team and the Showcase was a good learning experience and now it’s time to turn the page,” Didmon said.
The Warriors, who outshot the Grizzlies 35-15, got a pair of goals from Alexi Van Houte-Cachero, and a single from Tyler Cristall.
The Grizzlies now have a few days off before hosting the Vernon Vipers on Thursday night at The Q Centre.