A pair of critical wins last week boosted the Victoria Grizzlies’ chances of securing home-ice advantage for the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
A 3-2 win over Powell River on Saturday at The Q Centre, combined with a 4-3 overtime victory Feb. 18 in Port Alberni, saw the Grizzlies overtake the Kings for second in the Island Division, a spot Victoria hasn’t been in for some weeks now.
The boys in black and gold held period leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Powell River in the teams’ final regular season meeting of the season. Dane Gibson, named the BCHL player of the week Feb. 17, scored the eventual winner from linemate Brett Gruber a minute into the third.
Powell River’s Jared Lukosevicius beat Grizzlies goalie Michael Stiliadis unassisted 9:00 into the third to pull the Kings within one, but the netminder shut the door from there on.
Ayden MacDonald scored the lone goal in the first period, then Grizzlies teammate Jake Emilio broke a 1-1 tie 14:38 into the second, after Nick Halagian got the visitors on the board at 11:01.
Last Wednesday in Port Alberni, the Grizzlies overcame a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime, then won it on a goal from Thomas Gobeil, who converted a Jay Mackie pass 3:19 into the extra frame. Gobeil had tied the game 3-3 with 53 seconds to go in regulation when he scored unassisted on the power play.
Gibson in the first period and Mackie, midway through the third, also tallied for the visitors.
A 4-1 Alberni loss in Merritt Sunday night clinched at least third place for the Grizzlies, but only second will give them home ice advantage.
The Bulldogs can play spoiler for the Kings, to the Grizzlies, benefit, as they travel to Powell River for the teams’ final two season games this Friday and Saturday night.
With three games left, Victoria plays last-place Cowichan Valley on Wednesday (Feb. 25) in Duncan, then winds up with a back-to-back games against first-place Nanaimo at Frank Crane Arena on Friday then back at The Q Centre on Saturday. Both of those games start at 7 p.m. A fan bus will be going to Nanaimo on Friday; call 250-385-1555 for more details.