BCHL Grizzlies survive Powell River road trip on an even keel

No ground lost in Island Division standings to red-hot Kings

Coming out of a weekend in Powell River with a split is no small feat in B.C. Hockey League play.

The Victoria Grizzlies accomplished just that, thanks to a 4-1 victory Sunday afternoon on the Sunshine Coast. The win followed a 5-1 loss to the Kings on Saturday night after a brutal day of travel involving cancelled ferry sailings and a rerouted bus trip.

While winning both ends of last weekend’s doubleheader would have pulled the Grizzlies (12-17-0-4) within three points of the third-place Kings in the Island Division standings, not losing ground to the red-hot Kings has to be considered a good thing.

Sunday’s game saw the visitors score three times in the second period and bag an empty netter in the third to beat Powell River, who had gone 7-1-1 in their previous nine starts.

Matthew Galajda was solid in net for the Grizzlies, turning aside 25 of 26 Kings shots, including all 12 in the final frame. He was named the game’s first star for his efforts.

Goals five minutes apart midway through the second period by Jake Stevens and Dante Hahn gave the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead before Austin Kamer got the Kings on the board at the 14:01 mark.

Brayden Gelsinger restored the two-goal advantage at 18:38, finishing off a passing play from Stevens and Cody Van Lierop for his team-leading 11th of the season.

The teams battled back and forth in the third, but the Kings couldn’t solve Galajda. P.J. Conlon, from Cole Pickup and Tyler Welsh, notched his eighth of the season into the empty net with 38 seconds to go.

Victoria outshot Powell River 34-26 overall.

On Saturday, the Kings came out guns blazing and outshot the visitors 43-32. They held period leads of 1-0 and 3-0 and chased starter Galajda from the Victoria net when Tristan Mullin scored his first of two goals to make it 4-0 at the 2:11 mark of the third.

Backup goalie Mitchel Benson went the rest of the way, surrendering only a last-minute goal from Mullin among nine shots. Grizzlies defenceman Kevin Massy had scored from Gelsinger and Jared Virtanen to cut the lead to 4-1 late in the period.

Following the weekend away, the Grizzlies are scheduled to play four of their next five games at home before departing for the Christmas break.

They host Alberni Valley at The Q Centre Tuesday night at 7 p.m., then welcome high-flying U.S. expansion club Wenatchee Wild on Saturday at 7 p.m. A Sunday matinee game (2 p.m. start) against West Kelowna Warriors follows the next day.

Bear claws … The Grizzlies are hoping their fans will help the team send a warm Christmas present to the folks at Our Place. For the next series of home games at The Q Centre, the club is collecting new pairs of socks for donation to the downtown service provider, which goes through 100 pairs a day. The goal is to collect 3,000 pairs between now and Christmas, or the equivalent in socks and cash. Members of the Grizzlies head down to Our Place this Friday to serve up breakfast for clients.