Victoria Grizzlies captain P.J. Conlon watches his shot fly past Prince George goaltender Liam McCloskey early in the second period of the teams' B.C. Hockey League game Sunday afternoon at The Q Centre in Colwood. The goal proved to be the ultimate winner in a 7-3 game.

Make that four straight for surging Victoria Grizzlies

Pair of weekend wins give BCHL hockey team confidence heading out onto the road

Sunday’s B.C. Hockey League game in Colwood marked a milestone for Victoria Grizzlies defenceman Jake Stevens.

The rangy blueliner from Illinois scored twice and added two assists, effectively doubling his point total in his first BCHL season.

“That’s the first time maybe in my life, actually,” No. 4 said of the four-point game, after the Grizzlies downed visiting Prince George 7-3 at The Q Centre.

Speaking of fours, the victory was Victoria’s fourth in a row and extended their season-best win streak, as well as helping them inch closer to the pack in the BCHL’s Island Division.

“Four in a row; we’re just rolling right now,” said Stevens, whose goals Sunday both came in the second period and helped his team take the lead for good.

Dante Hahn also scored twice and added an assist for the Grizzlies, while Tyler Welsh, P.J. Conlon and Keyvan Mokhtari tallied once each. Brayden Gelsinger chipped in with three assists.

The Spruce Kings led 1-0 after one period, but fell behind 3-2 after two and gave up three goals in the first 4:23 of the third. Mitchell Benson turned aside 31 shots in a rare start for the Grizzlies, who were outshot 34-27, another somewhat rare occurrence this season.

The seven goals were the most the team has scored in the regular season this year. The output somewhat surprised head coach and general manager Craig Didmon.

“We were throwing the pucks at the net a lot today. We didn’t get a ton of shots, but somehow the hockey gods are starting to look after us here and we had some puck luck,” he said. “It was almost shocking to have so much luck around the net.”

The weekend started Friday night for the Grizzlies with a thrilling 2-1 win over division-leading Cowichan Valley in Colwood. P.J. Conlon broke a 1-1 tie with less than a minute to go in the third to give Victoria their second win over the Capitals in as many games. The importance of that result was not lost on Didmon.

“To beat them twice in a row allowed us to believe in ourselves,” he said. “They’re a team that’s considered a top team in the league. For us to go out there and be the better team for six periods, it really gave us a message and helped us with our confidence. This team seems to be getting better every game, but we love that we got the four points from Cowichan.”

Showing how close the Grizzlies are to the Capitals, their three previous losses to Cowichan Valley were all by one goal.

After managing just one win in their first 11 games, the Grizzlies have gone 6-4 since. They head up to Powell River for a Tuesday night game this week, then take off Friday for a three-games-in three-nights road swing through Coquitlam, Merritt and Trail. They travel to Nanaimo to play the Clippers on Nov. 18 and return home to play the Smokeaters the next night.

Didmon noted that he saw signs of a Grizzlies’ turnaround on their last major road trip. “We’re hoping we can get out there and improve on that (1-9-0-0) road record.”

For the time being, he and his players are relishing the feeling of a positive streak.

“I just think we’re playing with more energy, that’s really it. Now we believe we can win and we are winning,” Stevens said. He added of the upcoming road trip, “We just want to keep doing the same thing and try to keep the streak going.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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