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The Victoria Grizzlies have just five games remaining in their 2018-2019 British Columbia Hockey League regular season schedule, which means time is running out for Greater Victoria hockey fans to catch a glimpse of the highly-talented Alex Newhook.
The Grizzlies are leading the Island Division and have long locked down a guaranteed playoff spot; however, the division lead – although unlikely to change hands – could be taken by the Powell River Kings, who sit just five points back in second.
The Grizzlies have a date with the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Wednesday, in Duncan, and then Alberni Valley Bulldogs – both games are against teams that are well back in the standings. But the Grizzlies will need to adhere to the hockey adage, beware the team with nothing to lose.
Sunday, Feb. 17 the Grizzlies visit the Kings for what may be a four-pointer. It may be a must-win game to win the division title.
Victoria has a record of 33-16-0-4, while Powell River sits just five points back at 32-20-1-0. Both have played 53 of their 58-game schedule.
The Grizzlies have won their last four games including a 6-2 victory over Powell River on Feb. 3 at The Q Centre.
Saturday and Sunday, the Grizzlies won 4-1 in both games against the Wenatchee Wild and Merritt Centennials. Merritt and Wenatchee occupy second and third place in the Interior Division with records of 35-15-4-3 and 29-19-2-4 respectively – two strong teams with good regular season records.
Saturday, BCHL scoring leader Alex Newhook scored his 31st goal of the season to open the scoring at 4:14 of the first period. Riley Hughes, a New York Rangers draft pick and Carter Berger assisted on the goal. Berger, a North Vancouver native is one of the best defensemen in the BCHL and is headed to Connecticut in the NCAA next season.
At 8:21, Cameron Thompson buried his 18th from Kyle McGrath and Nico Somerville on the powerplay. Hunter Hastings was serving a bench minor for Too Many Men on the ice.
At risk of a momentum shift, Wenatchee scored at 19:58 of the first period to climb within one. Chad Sasaki scored his 12th of the season.
There was no scoring during the second period.
The Grizzlies put the Wild ones away with two goals, one virtually off of the faceoff at 17 seconds and the other at 12:10. Kyle McGrath with his second and Henri Schreifels with his fifth put the game out of reach.
Newhook led the way with a goal and an assist.
Cal Sandquist took the loss in net for the Wild stopping 26 of the 30 shots that he faced.
Chapman Kurtis earned the win in net for Victoria stopping 24 of 25.
Wenatchee went 0/3 on the powerplay while Victoria scored once on seven opportunities.
Sunday, it was the Newhook-Hughes show once again as Hughes opened the scoring at 1:45 of the first. The goal was set up by Newhook and Jeremie Bucheler. At 4:56 Newhook scored an unassisted marker.
Merritt would get their only goal of the game at 9:23. Christian Sabin got his 15th of the season.
Newhook scored again at 14:26 from Somerville for the only goal of the second period.
He completed the hat-trick at 6:34 of the third period from McGrath and Hughes.
Austin Roden took the loss in goal for Merritt stopping 32 of 36; while Chapman stopped 31 of 32 for the second 4-1 win in two days.
The powerplays went 0/4 and 0/5 for Merritt and Victoria respectively.
Newhook from St. John’s, NL is expected to be drafted in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and is slated to play for Boston College next season. This is his second year as a Grizzlies player. As a rookie he scored 22 goals and set up 44 more for 66 points in just 44 games played. So far this season, he leads the league with 34 goals and 56 assists for 90 points in 45 games played.
Twenty-six times he has had multiple-point games including a five pointer on Feb.3 and a seven pointer on Nov. 30. He has scored three hat-tricks this season and has had five two-goal games.
The final five games and the post-season will be the final opportunity for Victoria hockey fans to see him play in a Grizzlies uniform.