© Copyright – 2019 – Victoria Sports News

The capital once again is offering up a big weekend of sports including three championships cup matches at Royal Athletic Park in the Vancouver Island Soccer League, the Brown Cup – a dual rowing meet between the UBC Thunderbirds and University of Victoria Vikes on the Gorge and plenty of hockey.

The Victoria Grizzlies and the Prince George Spruce Kings will be suiting up Friday for the British Columbia Hockey League semi-final – final four – playoff series. The winner will head to the league dance against the winner of the series between the Vernon Vipers and Wenatchee Wild.

Victoria finished the 2018-2019 regular season in first place in the Island Division with a record of 36-18-0-4, good for fifth place overall in the three-division 17-team league. Prince George finished second in the Mainland Division behind the Chilliwack Chiefs (42-15-1-0) with a record of 39-13-1-5.

The Spruce Kings are on a roll having taken out the Coquitlam Express 4-1 in the opening round, then swept the Chiefs 4-0. Meanwhile, Victoria swept the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, 4-0 and went seven against the Powell River Kings.

All season, the Grizzlies had their hands full with the Kings. At 34-21-2-1, they were often tough to play against. Powell River had the upper hand all season going 6-2 against the Grizzlies. They defeated the Grizzlies by lopsided scores twice including a 12-5 drubbing on Oct. 20 and 8-3 as recently as Feb. 17.

The Grizzlies won Games 1, 3, 5 and 7. The final game they won with authority 6-1 at home at The Q Centre in Colwood.

With their high-powered offence, the Grizzlies will score at will, early and often. They led the league during the regular season with 231 goals scored in 58 games played. They will have to sort out how to score against the league stingiest team, who scored only 181 goals and let in just 120.

The Grizzlies exciting brand of hockey offers up the league’s most talented offensive player in Alex Newhook, who led the regular season with 38 goals, 64 assists for 102 points in 53 games. His next closest rival was 18 points back at 41-43-84 for Ryan Brushett of Powell River.

Newhook of St. John’s, NL will be attending Boston College next year. He is expected to be drafted into the NHL at this summer’s NHL entry draft.

In 11 games played he is second in playoffs points with nine goals and nine assists behind only Lucas Sowder who has played two extra games and has 20 points. Other thoroughbreds in the Grizzlies lineup include Carter Berger, Riley Hughes, ALex Campbell and the smooth skating Marty Westhaver.

Thursday’s puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm at the CN Centre in Prince George.

EXTRAS: Keenan Rancier is a 2000-born backup goaltender for the Spruce Kings. He is the only player from Victoria on their roster. He went 5-2-0-0 during the regular season with a GAA of 3.26 and a SV% of .886. He is a former Grizzlies player having played in five games for the Grizzlies this season.

Elsewhere in the capital: The Campbell River Storm are in Esquimalt tonight to take on the Victoria Cougars for Game 2 of their best of seven final playoff series for the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League championships. Both teams will go on to play in the provincials in Campbell River – the Cyclone Taylor Cup. The Storm won Game 1 4-0 at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River.

The Victoria Royals will host the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The series is currently tied 2-2. The teams will return to Kamloops on Monday. Whoever wins Saturday in Victoria has an opportunity to take the series on Monday.

The Midget A South Island Royals girls played their provincial championships in Fort. St. John. Expected to finish mid-pack, they raised some eyebrows going 3-1 and taking the silver medal, losing to Richmond in the final game. Richmond was the team to beat in the tournament.

Results:

Game 1 – Richmond Ravens 7 Victoria Royals 2
Game 2 – North Shore Avalanche 2 – Royals 4
Game 3 – Kamloops Jr. Blazers 1 – Royals 4
Game 4 – Vancouver Angels 1 – Royals 1
Game 5 – LB Energy Predators 1 – Royals 4
Game 6 – Richmond Ravens 4 – Royals 0