Sunday, 26 October 2014

Grizzlies Edge Eagles in Saturday Night Showdown

     It seems like the Victoria Grizzlies never fail to produce dramatic hockey games, and Saturday night's contest against the Surrey Eagles was no different. The Grizzlies entered the game riding a three game losing skid, while the Eagles were coming off only a night's rest, losing 5-2 to the Coquitlam Express on Friday night on home ice. For the Grizzlies, they were still without head coach Brad Knight behind the bench, serving the second game of his three game suspension from altercations in Merritt.

     Early on, it looked as if the Grizzlies were going to run away with this hockey game. While it took a few minutes for the Grizzlies to get into gear, once they got going, they didn't look back. Dane Gibson and Jay Mackie would work some magic shorthanded, as the duo played hot potato across the blue line before Mackie slotted the centering feed past Eagles' sixteen year-old netminder Daniel Davidson to give the Grizz an early 1-0 lead. The Grizzlies kept the goals coming, as Cole Pickup would go to the backhand in front to beat Davidson just two minutes after the Mackie marker to make it 2-0 Victoria. The Grizzlies offence continued to strike early and often, as Jay Mackie would pick up his 2nd goal of the period with another nice assist from Dane Gibson to give Victoria a 3-0 lead just halfway into the first period. Then, a costly turnover in the Eagles end near the end of the frame would give Spencer Hunter a break and he would make no mistake, potting his first career BCHL goal on the defensive lapse to give the Grizzlies a commanding 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Not only was this the best period the Grizzlies have had so far this season, but it could go down as the best period the Grizzlies will play this season, as they passed the puck at will and created countless scoring chances, and outshot the Eagles 12-1 as the end of the period approached.

     However, the Grizzlies would take their foot off the gas pedal in the second period, and the Surrey squad began to claw back into the hockey game. It would be the Eagles top line that would get Surrey on the board, as Spencer Unger finished off the nice play to cut the Grizzlies lead down to three. Later in the period, it would be Spencer Meyer cashing in to cut the Victoria lead to 4-2. If it weren't for some lucky bounces and some nice stops from Grizzlies goalie Sean Cleary, the game could've been ripped right open for the Eagles to exploit. The Grizzlies couldn't handle the Surrey offence and were often on the ropes in their own end for stretched periods of time, and the Victoria crowd sat in silence and awe for the majority of the second period.

     The Eagles rushed out of the gates to start the third period, as a Lucas Stratford shot ricocheted off the end boards straight on the tape of Darius Davidson who made no mistake on the yawning cage to continue the Eagles comeback and mark three unanswered goals to make it 4-3 Victoria just two minutes into the final frame. The Grizzlies only had two power play opportunities in the hockey game, but they cashed in when they needed it most, as Cole Pickup capped a strong game with a beautiful centering pass for the veteran Garrett Forster who snapped the one-timer past Davidson to restore the Grizzlies two goal lead halfway through the period. The Eagles refused to quit, as Liam Fordy streaked down the left wing and snapped a wrist shot blocker side on Cleary to cut the lead in half with seven minutes to play in the contest. The Eagles would pull their goalie late, but couldn't capitalize on the extra man, as the Grizzlies secured their second home win of the season, defeating the Eagles 5-4 in a very tight affair. 

     Although it was a win, as a Grizzlies fan, it felt like a loss. The Grizzlies allowed the Eagles to come back from an early 4-0 deficit and nearly allowed the road team to escape with a victory in a contest that should've been a blowout. Give credit where credit is due, the Eagles made a game out of it, but the Grizzlies will need much better sixty minute efforts if they want to become serious contenders in the Island Division. At the end of the day, two points is two points and the Grizzlies will prepare for a matinee game tomorrow afternoon against another Mainland opponent, the West Kelowna Warriors. It wasn't pretty, but the Grizzlies got it done on home ice. -TB

1 comment:

  1. Overall its a home win and 2 points in regulation which is key because there is no "Loser Point" handed out. So I tend to disagree slightly with my colleague TB, as it didn't feel like a loss to me, it felt like a needlessly scary narrow victory, but a win is a win. I was pleased to see Cole Pickup grab his first of the campaign but was even more impressed by the his perfect feed by to #9 Garrett Forster who made no mistake with the eventual GWG, that was my Play of The Game. #21, Spencer Hunter got his first BCHL tally as well and while he was deservedly pumped in first ever league goal celebration, I felt a bit bad for #27 Storm Wahlrab, because I am pretty sure he was denied an assist on that goal. If you slow down the replay you will see that Storm contributed to the turnover ever so slightly and helped get the puck to our youngest Grizzlie. Oh well, who knows, maybe someday that will make a fun Grizzlies Trivia question: "Which 2014/15 Grizzlies player in was not credited with an assist on Spencer Hunter's (unassisted) and first ever goal in the BCHL after tipping the puck and helping force a turnover for the young 16 year-old's first big moment of glory in the league?"

    A: #27 Storm Wahlrab

    But a good game overall Grizzlies, even though it didn't need to end in such dramatic fashion. -CC