Friday, 28 November 2014

Grizzlies Edged In 2OT By Clippers

     The Victoria Grizzlies headed up to the Frank Crane Arena on a brisk Friday night on the heels of a dissapointing 5-2 loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals earlier in the week. The Grizzlies looking to get some traction after ending their hot streak of three wins in four games. The Grizzlies would be without Quinn Thompson, as he was released by the team earlier this week. The Grizzlies didn't have it easy, taking on the Island Division leaders, the Nanaimo Clippers. This would be the sixth game between these two teams this season with the Grizzlies sporting a record of 2-3-0 against their rivals from up-island. This will be the last meeting between these two teams until February 4th, 2015 when the Grizzlies come back to Nanaimo late in the season before a home and home to close out the regular season.
Photo Credit: Tony Burrows
     Both teams came out strong, but it would be the Grizzlies getting the better of the home team early. It would be Jay Mackie opening the scoring in the first period, as Dane Gibson left a perfectly placed drop pass on the rush right on the tape of Mackie who snapped one glove side on Guillaume Decelles to give the Grizzlies an early 1-0 advantage. The Grizzlies would get some luck near the end of the first period after a big hit by Clippers captain Brendan Taylor on Matt Kennedy. It would be Justin Sadler dumping the puck in on a change, and Nanaimo defenceman Jordan Low would go back behind the net to start the breakout for the Clippers. Unfortunately, Decelles was out of his net a ways and Low didn't notice, as he tried to fire a cross-ice pass, but the puck deflected off the skate of Conlon and then his netminder and into the net for a (somewhat) own-goal. P.J. Conlon would be credited with his 5th goal of the season and a 2-0 Grizzlies lead heading into the locker room.
Photo Credit: Tony Burrows

     The Clippers would cut into the Grizzlies lead in the second, as it would be Jacob Hanlon on a 2-on-1 shorthanded sniping one past Sean Cleary, his second straight game with a shorthanded goal to make it a 2-1 Victoria lead. The Clippers would find the equalizer midway through the second after a Dane Gibson shot found the post, as Jake Jackson's centering pass from the corner went into traffic, and Cole Maier would find the loose puck in front and fire one past Cleary to knot the game at two a piece. The Clippers would press late, but some timely stops from Cleary would keep the game knotted at a 2-2 tie heading into the second intermission.
Photo Credit: Tony Burrows

     The third period would kick off with a bang, as both teams traded high-quality scoring chances in the first few minutes of the period. Both teams turned on the afterburners and the game began to open up offensively. Sean Cleary had to be sharp midway through the frame, as he fended off a deadly Clippers power play unit to keep the game knotted at two. It was nearly 3-2 late when Jay Mackie got open in front with a sprawled Decelles but the Grizzlies couldn't convert, but they did draw a late powerplay opportunity. The Grizzlies tried to convert on the man advantage, but couldn't manage to setup and get any chances. A timely stop by Sean Cleary on Sheldon Rempal point blank would keep the game tied with only two minutes remaining to force sudden death overtime.
Photo Credit: Tony Burrows
     In overtime, both teams had multiple chances to seal the deal. Sheldon Rempal had another point blank opportunity, but a sprawling Cleary was able to make the save and the Victoria defenders were able to clear the rebound. Shawn McBride came the other way with a good chance, but found no dice. Jake Jackson was the next Clipper with the opportunity to put the game away, but he put the shot over the top of the net to end the first overtime period without a winner with both teams having multiple chances to win the game.
     It would be the home team finding the final goal in three-on-three overtime just 49 seconds in, as Sheldon Rempal worked through the middle, took a shot, grabbed his own rebound at the side of the net and somehow put the puck past Sean Cleary from an awkward angle to complete the comeback and give the Clippers their third straight win with a 3-2 victory in extra time.
Photo Credit: Tony Burrows
     The Grizzlies manage to salvage a point in the loss, but the team really wanted this win, especially being up 2-0 after twenty minutes. The Grizzlies fall to 2-3-1 against the Clippers this season. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies don't gain as much ground in the Island Division standings as they could've and have to swallow a difficult loss to the best in the division. The Grizzlies will now get a full week's rest, as their next game isn't a week from today up in Cowichan Valley, as they seek revenge against the Capitals. It was a difficult loss for the Grizzlies, but they'll take the single point and move on. -TB

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