Grizzlies off to a fast start in BCHL play

Victoria posts two close victories in Chilliwack, plays Island rivals this weekend

The Victoria Grizzlies have a clean slate heading into week 2 of the B.C. Hockey League season, after posting a pair of victories at the Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack  last weekend.

The Grizzlies beat the Langley Rivermen 2-1 on Sunday, a day after Mitch Meek’s 3:38 into overtime gave Victoria a 5-4 win over the defending league champion Vernon Vipers.

Shawn McBride scored the eventual winner 1:54 into the third period against Langley, after a P.J. Conlon goal for Victoria made it 1-1 in the second.

The Rivermen, who got a goal from Evan Anderson with one second left in the opening period, outshot the Grizzlies 35-28 and fired 17 shots at Victoria goalie Michael Stiliadis in the second period alone.

The Vipers, one of two teams that beat the home ice Grizzlies in the playoff semifinals last season – Coquitlam was the other – started with a flourish Saturday at Prospera Centre, opening up a 3-1 lead after one period.

The Grizzlies fought back to take the lead in the third period. A shorthanded unassisted marker from Garret Forster, his second goal of the game, made it 4-3 Victoria at the 7:31 mark and followed Brett Gruber’s tying goal scored on the power play at 5:04.

The Vipers’ Anthony Latina returned the favour with 1:16 to go, notching the 4-4 goal unassisted.

Kevin Massy also scored in the win while Stiliadis went the distance for the Grizzlies, turning aside 20 of 24 shots.

Victoria continues their season on the road this Friday (Sept. 26) with a game against Cowichan Valley at Island Savings Centre in Duncan, and Saturday in Nanaimo versus the Clippers at Frank Crane Arena. Both games start at 7 p.m.

The Grizzlies play their home opener Oct. 3 at The Q Centre, hosting Alberni Valley for a 7 p.m. game.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com