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The Victoria Grizzlies (14-9-3-1) hosted the Powell River Kings (15-6-2-2) Tuesday at The Q Centre, but ended up the wrong side of a 7-3 score.
It was a veritable four-pointer, with the Kings holding down first place in the Island Division, while the Grizzlies are in third, two points back. The Kings have two games in-hand. The Nanaimo Clippers are sandwiched between the two. The three teams have 34, 33 and 32 points respectively, before Tuesday’s game.
This was the sixth meeting of the season between Powell River and Victoria, with the series split with three wins apiece.
The game got off to a free-flowing start running nearly straight time for nine minutes, with the bulk of the play in the Powell River zone, however, one defensive error by the Grizzlies, allowed a 2-on-1 play to develop from the blue-line in.
Trent Bell carried the puck in and chose to shoot and scored his third of the season. He buried the puck top right corner on Zachary Rose. Assists went to Josh Coblenz and Dawson Frank.
“I don’t think we played that badly. We did have defensive errors, trying to get the puck up ice too fast to score,” shared Coach Craig Didmon. “You make an error and you get scored on, that’s the way it was tonight.”
The goal gave the Kings life as they scored again at 12:54. Kevin Obbsuth broke in alone on Rose and went five-hole on the back-hand. It was the first of two for him on the night. Kyle Kawamura earning the only assist on the play.
Jordan Guiney scored his first of the season at 13:31. It trickled in on a scrambled play. Lach Hadley and Ryan Nolan earned assists on the play. The teams skated to the dressing rooms with the Kings up 2-1.
During the second period, things began to unravel for the Grizzlies, as they gave up three goals, including two short-handed markers on the rush.
At 4:01 Carter Turnbull scored for the Kings shorthanded, but on the same Grizzlies powerplay Carter Berger got one back for the home team.
With 2:04 remaining in the second, the Grizzlies needed a goal, being down 5-2. The smooth-skating Marty Westhaver broke in with Cameron Thompson. Westhaver dropped the puck between the legs of the Kings’ defender on to Thompson’s stick, Thompson toe-dragged the puck and ripped a shot stick-side on goaltender Mitch Admyk. It was the prettiest goal of the game.
The third period got off to a fast start with both teams seeing scoring opportunities. Westhaver was fed a breakaway pass during the first shift. He missed on a golden opportunity, the play turned up ice for Powell River and Obssuth converted his second goal of the game to put the game out of reach at 7-3.
The Grizzlies fought hard to make the score respectable, but there was nothing doing.
“We have a lot of talent on this team. There is a lot of depth throughout the line-up. You know, one night you score six unanswered and are on top of the world, the next night it’s the opposite. We saw a little fatigue in their legs tonight. This is a tough league to play in,” added Didmon.
Asked about the powerplay Alex Newhook said, “yeah we couldn’t get going. We had a couple unlucky bounces. As for the short-handed goals, it is something we have to look out for and not let happen again. We will be better.”
The Kings went 0/3 on the man advantage, while the Grizzlies scored 1/3 on the powerplay.
Shots were 42-36 for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies next play three games in three nights on the road when they take on the Prince George Spruce Kings, Vernon Vipers and Coquitlam Express, Dec. 1, 2 and 3.
They return home Dec. 9 when they host the Nanaimo Clippers.