Game Day: Trail Smoke Eaters visit Friday, Oct. 9, 7:15 p.m. at Bear Mountain Arena.
Overtime can be a beautiful thing in hockey, especially when the home team wins. And especially because it clears the ice for the Fitzgerald triplets to take advantage of the extra ice made available with four skaters aside in the first over time and three aside in the second overtime.
And they did just that, with Myles Powell scoring in the first OT on Sunday to edge the visiting Alberni Bulldogs 3-2, and Myles Fitzgerald scoring in double OT on Friday to burn the Penticton Vees.
“We learned a valuable lesson (on the weekend), how good teams are and how hard you have to work to be successful,” head coach Bill Bestwick said.
Powell’s goal capped the Grizzlies’ shining weekend of hockey.
Beating the Bulldogs (7-5-2) puts the Grizzlies (8-4-1) into first in the Island division, one point up on the Bulldogs. Beating the league-leading and reigning national champion Vees (10-2-1) reestablishes the Grizz among the BCHL best, and erased the three-game losing streak to Nanaimo, Coquitlam and Powell River.
“Penticton was probably the best junior-A a game I’d seen in two years,” Bestwick said.
“Alberni played a perfect road game, I tip my cap to them how good they played. I’m going to tell their coach what a great game they played and I hope he accepts it as a respectful thing.”
The wins are also proof positive that the diminutive Fitzgerald triplets have arrived as a top line in the BCHL, able to carry a team against the league’s best.
On Friday Myles Powell and Blake Thompson put the Grizz up 2-1 before Wade Murphy, a Saanich native, tied it for the Vees. The score remained 2-2 until Myles Fitzgerald scored an unassisted goal during the three-on-three, double overtime.
Then on Sunday it was Gerry Fitzgerald carrying the sweet stick. Gerry earned the first assist on all three Grizzlies goals as his team mounted a third period comeback and overcame the the Bulldogs’ 2-0 lead. He set up a Myles for a wrist shot goal three minutes in, drew a defender to the corner and slid it to the net for a Leo Fitzgerald tap-in at 14 minutes. In overtime Gerry drew a defender to the left corner and fired a perfect pass to Powell, who was barreling towards the net unchecked, and buried it under the diving body of goalie Brad Reblagliati.
“In the first and second we had a lot of chances we didn’t bury and we were frustrated,” Gerry said. Hidden from the announced Sunday crowd of 936 was some second-period negativity on the bench, but the frustrations were displayed for all when Turner Lawson was sent off for a blow to the head, which came amid skirmish which surely would have been a line brawl 10 years ago.
“We were the beneficiary of the scheduling with Alberni (playing their third game in three days),” Bestwick said. “But Penticton came in here the day before and there was no benefits or disadvantages to either team.”