Depleted Grizzlies claw Capitals
VICTORIA 5 COWICHAN VALLEY 3
With seven top players missing, nobody would have faulted the Victoria Grizzlies if they would have rather dug a hole through the centre circle to go ice fishing rather than play hockey.
The Grizzlies, however, have taken the challenge this month presents as a point of pride. Victoria, trailing 3-1 entering the third period, rallied with four unanswered goals as they defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 5-3 in B.C. Hockey League action Friday night at The Q Centre.
Marty Westhaver scored from an acute angle at 15:36 of the third period for the winning goal and Ryan Nolan sealed the comeback into the empty net goal for his second goal of the night.
“We got one, and then the next one, and it kept rolling,” said hometown-product Westhaver, who like, Nolan, has 12 goals.
“It shows the character of this group,” said Chicago-product Nolan, named the game’s first star.
“It’s full of heart. I’m proud of all the guys tonight for stepping up.”
Of note were Kyle Dumba for his 47 saves in goal for Victoria and the jet-fast Eddy Yan, who was disruptive all night in the Capitals zone and named the game second star.
“That was a gutsy display by all the players,” said Victoria GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
“The players showed why they are on this team. Given the opportunity, they flourished and shone.”
The Grizzlies were missing projected first-round 2019 NHL draft Alex Newhook, 2018 New York Rangers draft pick Riley Hughes, 2019 NHL draft-projected Alex Campbell and defencemen Carter Berger and Jeremie Bucheler to the World Junior A Challenge beginning Sunday in Bonnyville, Alta. Forward Cam Thompson and goaltender Kurtis Chapman, meanwhile, are out with injury.
The loss moved the Island Division-leading Grizzlies to 21-10-1.
Nolan opened scoring just 2:09 into the game before Luc Wilson tied it for the Capitals at 9:06. NCAA Lake Superior State-bound Niko Esposito-Selivanov gave Cowichan the lead by swinging out unchallenged from behind the net at 7:33 of the second period. Paul Selleck turned that into a two-goal lead for the Caps at 18:36. Victoria tied it 3-3 in the third period on power-play goals by Darwin Lakoduk at 1:08 and Lach Hadley at 7:15. They were the third goals of the season for both players as they took advantage of their added power-play minutes, as did Henri Schreifels, who assisted on both goals. The Capitals fell to 8-19-5. The Grizzlies host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (15-12-3 following Friday night’s 3-2 victory in Powell River) tonight on Teddy Bear Toss Night at The Q Centre.
Grizzlies winger Ryan Nolan breaks around Capitals defenceman David Melaragni on Friday at The Q Centre.