Weekend split keeps Grizzlies ahead of Bandits

Tuesday rematch against Clippers awaits at The Q Centre in Colwood

Heading into Tuesday night’s B.C. Hockey League game at The Q Centre (Dec. 1, 7 p.m. start), Nanaimo still has the Victoria Grizzlies’ number.

Then again, the Clippers have a lot of teams’ numbers lately, having reeled off five straight wins. Nanaimo (17-10-0-1) sits two points ahead of second-place Powell River and three up on Cowichan Valley.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, aren’t exactly being left in the dust in the Island Division. The West Shore squad, doing its best to put some distance between themselves and last-place Alberni Valley, beat the Bandits 4-2 on Saturday after a 5-2 loss to the Clippers the night before in Colwood.

The Grizzlies (11-16-0-3) staked themselves to a 3-0 first-period lead against Port Alberni (10-15-1-1), and withstood a third-period barrage to hang on for the win.

P.J. Conlon, Brett Stirling and Nick Guiney, on a last-minute power play, provided all the required offence in the opening period.

Adam Donnelly replied for Alberni in the second. After Brayden Gelsinger restored the Grizzlies’ three-goal lead to start the third, the Bandits turned up the heat, outshooting Victoria 14-6 in the period. The only fruit of their labours, however, was an unassisted marker by Nathan Dingman with 23 seconds to play.

Matthew Galajda stopped 24 of 26 shots for the win, while teammate Cody van Lierop chipped in two assists.

On Friday night at The Q Centre, late third-period goals from Nanaimo’s Sheldon Rempal and Chris Dodero broke open a tight 3-2 game in which the Grizzlies never led.

Rempal scored his first of the game to give the first-place Clippers (17-10-0-1) a 1-0 lead after one. Brayden Gelsinger tied it for the locals 5:25 in to the second, but Yanni Kaldis restored Nanaimo’s lead with 1:59 to play in the middle frame.

Adam Pilotte made it 3-1 early in the third, but Cole Pickup responded with a power play goal from Gelsinger and Dante Hahn 8:45 in. The Clippers outshot Victoria 15-8 in the period and 35-28 overall.

The Grizzlies head to Powell River this weekend for back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, then return to The Q Centre next Tuesday (Dec. 8) to host the Bandits again.


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