Grizzlies battle way to top of BCHL’s Island Division

Different faces emerging for Victoria hockey team at key moments

Things are getting awfully crowded atop the Island Division of the B.C. Hockey League.

The Victoria Grizzlies took three of four points from the Cowichan Valley Capitals, winning 6-3 at home on Friday and holding the hometown Caps to a 3-3 tie in double overtime in Duncan the following night to take over first place in the division.

Heading into this Friday’s home game against Langley at The Q Centre (7 p.m. puck drop), the Grizzlies (7-2-2-3) hold a slim one-point lead over the Powell River Kings, who split a pair of weekend games.

The Caps, who entered last weekend tied for top spot with Victoria, slipped into a tie for third two points back with the surging Nanaimo Clippers, who two wins included a 3-0 shutout of the high-flying Penticton Vees, who outshot Nanaimo 46-17.

After spotting the locals a 1-0 lead by the first intermission Saturday, the Grizzlies turned up the heat in the second, getting goals from recently committed University of Nebraska-Omaha college prospect Cole Pickup, Lucas Clark and Tyler Welsh. But the Caps fought back to tie it up by the 5:41 mark of the third on goals from Rhett Kingston and Ryan Hogg.

Then it was the goalies turn to shine. Victoria outshot Cowichan 3-1 in the four-on-four play, but the Caps held a 4-3 advantage in the three-on-three second overtime. Lane Michasiw stopped 50 shots in all for the Caps, while Matthew Galajda turned aside 25 Cowichan Valley shots.

On Friday at The Q Centre, Cameron Thompson had a breakout game for the Grizzlies, piling up four points on a goal and three assists. He set up Jamie Rome’s fourth and fifth goals of the season in the first period, when the Grizzlies built a 3-1 lead.

Rookie Cory Hatcher notched the third Victoria goal, his fifth of the campaign, but wound up playing a short game when he and Cowichan defenceman Nii Noi Tetteh fought late in the period and were ejected.

Hogg narrowed the gap to one 6:23 into the second period when he converted a pass from Simon Chen, who had opened scoring in the first just 3:04 in.

That was as close as the Caps would get, however, as Nick Guiney, with his first of the season, and Clark made it 5-2 with goals 19 seconds apart early in the final frame. Max Newton tallied his eighth for Cowichan to keep them in the hunt, but Thompson literally put the game away with his second of the season on a penalty shot awarded as part of a bench minor to the Caps at the 14:26 mark.

Thompson more than doubled his season output over the weekend, tallying five points to bring his total to two goals and seven assists in 14 games.

Galajda, who enters this week with a different backup goaltender, stopped 21 shots for the win on Friday.

Mitchel Benson, in his second season with the Grizzlies, was traded Sunday to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits in exchange for goalie Tony Rehm and future considerations. Rehm, a 19-year-old native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, recorded two wins and two ties with the Bandits this season and had a goals against average of 2.17.

Benson, a native of Windsor, Ont., had a 2-1-1 record with a 3.29 average.

The Grizzlies have a pair of games at home this weekend. They host the struggling Alberni Valley Bulldogs at 7 p.m. this Saturday.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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