The Victoria Grizzlies picked themselves off the canvas Friday night to bring their third round B.C. Hockey League series with the Chilliwack Chiefs back to The Q Centre.
Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven playoff series and 2-0 late in game five, the Grizzlies clawed their way back into the game, rallying for a 3-2 overtime win at Prospera Centre.
Nathan Looysen scored the winner early in OT with a rocket from the right face-off circle to ensure that there would be a Game 6 tonight at The Q Centre.
“I’m sure doubt entered everybody’s mind at some time but at the same time I sort of felt like something was going to work out,” said Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon.
“(Captain) Cody (Van Lierop) had a good chat with the boys right before they went out for the third…they weren’t uptight going into that third period.”
Chiefs star Jordan Kawaguchi opened the scoring 7:53 into game five, sniping his BCHL-leading 12th of the playoffs on a power play.
Taking a pass from Will Calverley to the right of the Victoria net, the Chiefs captain caught Grizz goalie Tony Rehm, starting in place of an injured Matthew Galajda, leaving a sliver of space between himself and the goal post. Kawaguchi threaded the needle with a lightning-quick snap shot for a 1-0 Chilliwack lead.
The Chiefs peppered Rehm’s net with 14 pucks through 20 minutes and the home team doubled the lead just 69 seconds into the middle frame on a Calverley goal. From just inside the right faceoff dot the rookie rifled the puck inside the far post for his third of the playoffs and Victoria was reeling.
The Chiefs had a chance for more when Tommy Lee was clipped in the face by a Carter Berger high stick. Berger was handed a double minor but the Chilliwack power play came up empty.
That would come back to haunt them.
From just about that moment on the script was flipped and the visitors were the much, much better team.
Victoria spent just about the entire third period in the Chiefs end and got within one with 5:40 remaining on a Dayne Finnson goal. Grizzly captain Cole Pickup saucered a backhand pass across the goal-mouth to Finnson who put a sharp-angle shot through Sinclair from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
Chilliwack head coach Jason Tatarnic had to call timeout to try and settle his troops but they were still hanging on as play resumed.
Victoria got the equalizer with 2:52 to play. Looysen camped in the crease and deflected a Jake Stevens centering pass/shot past Sinclair, sending this one to overtime.
The three stars were Calverley (first), Arseneau (second) and Looysen (third).
Announced attendance was 2,772.
The opening face-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight and Didmon says the key for his club will be to maintain their high level of work ethic.
“We need to live to see another day. We haven’t got anything yet. We’re certainly happy to be at home and we want to make up for the two losses we had this week at home,” he said.
–with files from Joel Tansey