Late game shorthanded effort by Mokhtari. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News

The Victoria Grizzlies and Chilliwack Chiefs renewed acquaintances at The Q Centre in Colwood Saturday night. The teams played game six of their second round playoff series – the conference final – only after heroic game five efforts by the Grizzlies to remain in the playoffs, capped by an overtime goal by Nathan Looysen. They won in overtime 3-2 in Chilliwack.

In the end, the Chiefs proved to be too much, as they won game six and eliminated the Grizzlies by the score of 4-2.

“The guys played the right way,” said Coach Craig Didmon. “They played with integrity, that is the culture we created in the dressing room, starting with the leadership of our 20-year-olds.”

Saturday, the Grizzlies got on the scoreboard early with a goal at 2:24, from the smooth-skating Marty Westhaver scoring his first of the post-season. Drayson Pears and Shawn O’Malley assisted on the goal that came on the rush. The Chiefs’ goaltender Mark Sinclair was caught out of position, following a cross-ice pass. Westhaver made no mistake burying the puck under the crossbar.

The lead didn’t last long as the Chiefs came back 26 seconds later with their own, goal on the rush, as Tommy Lee finished a play that was set up by Jordan Kawaguchi. Ben Fanjoy earned the second assist.

The Grizzlies had two soft calls go against them within the first 9:08 for cross-checking and hooking, which earned one referee the Vic West cheer from fans, when he was upended along the Grizzlies’ end boards. The Grizzlies managed to kill off both penalties, but the momentum was set.

Shorthanded, near break-a-way. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The first period ended 1-1. Shots were 10-6 for the Chiefs.

The second period opened up a little with both teams creating space with speed on offense and hard hits.

The Chiefs went up 2-1 at 8:21 of the second period with Jake Smith scoring his fourth with a screened wrister, high, glove side on goaltender Tony Rehm. Will Calverley, Olivier Arseneau assisted.

The Chiefs scored early in the third period, at 1:38 from Smith with his second goal of the game. He was gifted the puck at the side of the net on a scrambled defensive effort.

With 46.3 seconds remaining in the game Cole Pickup – playing in his final game in a Grizzlies uniform – won the offensive zone faceoff, skated in on Sinclair, received the puck from Jake Stevens and buried it to get within one. The goal came directly after a Grizzlies timeout that saw goaltender Rehm pulled in favour of the extra attacker.

Although the Grizzlies pressed hard during the third, throwing 13 shots on net and producing several outstanding scoring opportunities, Sinclair was just that much better and defended the lead.

The Chiefs got an empty netter as the clock wound down.

Shots were 31-25 Chiefs, while both powerplays went 0/2.

An emotional Cole Pickup said, “I learned to skate just up the hill (at Juan de Fuca Arena) I have played all of my hockey growing up here. I am going to miss playing in this building. It was a tough way to go out.”

The Chiefs go on to play for the league championships against the winner between Vernon and Penticton.

Post-game video interviews to follow.