The Victoria Grizzlies threw all they could at the Chilliwack Chiefs but unlike the previous night they couldn’t complete the comeback, falling by a 4-2 score in a Game 6 that put an end to their B.C. Hockey League season.
Facing elimination for the fourth time these playoffs, the Grizzlies entered the third period trailing 2-1 and surrendered a third goal 1:38 into the frame when Chiefs forward Jake Smith beat goaltender Tony Rehm for his second goal of the game.
As was the case in previous elimination contests, the Grizzlies played their best hockey with their backs against the wall, firing 13 shots on Chiefs goaltender Mark Sinclair in the final period.
Only one would slip past, a shot off a rebound from Victoria native Cole Pickup in the final minute, and the Chiefs added an empty net goal to complete the scoring.
“We just came up a little short. It’s a good hockey club over there…A couple breakdowns cost us,” said Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon.
Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic pointed to his team’s depth as the reason they were able to take the series.
“We outshot them for the most part in all the games and outscored them. Anytime you can put a lot of rubber on the net and score that many goals…that’s going to present some problems,” he said. “But at times when we were up they found ways to find some goals themselves. Any time the game was within striking distance, they fought pretty hard.”
Rehm was busy until the third, making 27 saves against 30 Chiefs shots.
Earlier, Grizzlies forward Marty Westhaver scored his first of the playoffs 2:24 into the opening period, but the excitement from the 1,418 fans at The Q Centre was quickly snuffed out when the Chiefs and forward Tommy Lee responded 26 seconds later.
Smith put the Chiefs up midway through the second frame before extending the lead in the third.
It was an emotional farewell for many Grizzlies players who saw their junior careers come to a close sooner than they would have liked.
“I’ve grown up playing here. It’s tough. I remember the first time I learned how to skate just up the hill there (at Juan de Fuca Arena)…it’s a tough night for sure,” Pickup said.
“It’s tough to finish the career here. There’s nothing but good things I can say about this place. It’s been my home for the past three years. It’s tough to say goodbye,” said Grizzlies captain Cody Van Lierop.
The Chiefs will move on to face the winner of the series between the Penticton Vees and the Vernon Vipers.
Those clubs are headed for a Game 7 after the Vipers cruised to a 5-1 win Saturday night.