Five games vs the same Nanaimo Clippers in less than 2 months may seem to some people as an unbalanced and unfair layout of the BCHL schedule is you were a Grizzlies fan. But from the detached and unbiased view of a hockey broadcaster I view it more as an unbalanced and unfair layout of the BCHL schedule.
Nevertheless the Grizzlies were completely ready to face the BCHL goal scoring leaders and high flying Nanaimo Clippers last night as the Clippers bus sailed into the Q Centre for no less than the third time this young season. And it was the dauntless Grizzlies who stood victorious at Centre Ice saluting the 700+ fans last night to thank those who braved a rainy Colwood evening for their support, each witness to a 3-2 comeback win by the home team.
It was the second game of a quick two game Home and Home Series with the Clippers before the Grizzlies kick off a three game weekend with Powell River on Saturday night and the Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday. The Grizzlies had already won the first half of the series with a dramatic 5-4 win thanks in large part to a late Power Play goal off the stick of a defenseman, Zach Dixon on Wednesday night. Two days later it would be another dramatic win for Victoria. Once again the victory would come at the hands of a defenseman on a late Power Play, this time 20 year old Jake Emilio. And the veteran D Man would make no mistake wiring a point shot into the back of the Nanaimo net, past a lunging Jakob Severson after a set up pass by teammate Kevin Massy.
The win, in conjunction with Wednesday's remarkable comeback at The Frank Crane Arena would vault the Grizzlies back into the conversation in the island standings. Heading into tonight's matchup in Powell River, the Grizzlies now sit only 3 points behind both Powell River and Alberni Valley, with a game in hand on the former. A Victoria win tonight would place the Grizzlies just a single point behind the two Island Division Clubs and create a virtual log jam of teams all fighting for that 2nd Place position in the division standings.
Dane Gibson, back in the lineup last night was a key piece of the comeback after tying the game on a beautiful wrist shot which beat Severson over the left shoulder and drew both teams level after a painful Nanaimo goal put the boatmen up 1-0 with only 0.3 seconds left in the 1st period. Most teams could crumple and panic after going down 1-0 so late in a period, but no these Grizzlies, they literally thrive on this kind of a challenge.
The night's #1 Star however was net minder, Michael Stiliadis, who stopped 30 of 32 shots he faced and only allowed two goals against the "103 Goals so far this season" Clippers. The Victoria goalie may not have been solely responsible for the win but without some of his dramatic late sprawling saves, the score would likely have been very different. Brett Gruber scored Victoria's second goal of the night off an incredible display of hands, batting down a Garrett Forster pass mid-air to score his team leading 11th of the campaign.
"The Kings of Drama", but hopefully not too road weary Grizzlies take their potent #1 Power Play on the road at 5pm Saturday to take on Powell River at the Hap Parker Arena and then return that evening on the late ferry to the island as they prepare to return to the Q Centre Sunday to face the Trail Smokeaters who will also be in action on Saturday night in Nanaimo. Game time sunday at The Q Centre is 2:00pm. - CC