The Victoria Grizzlies road trip rolled on Friday, as they squared off with the Langley Rivermen at the George Preston Arena.
Friday began a stretch of three games in as many days for the Grizzlies as they engaged in a high-scoring contest with Langley, ultimately falling, 5-4.
The Grizzlies (Now, 25-7-3-4, 57 points) remain twelve points ahead of the Powell River Kings for top spot in the British Columbia Hockey League’s Island Division. They now trail the Wenatchee Wild by five points for first place overall in the BCHL.
With the win, Langley (Now 17-14-5-2, 41 points) moves into third place in the Mainland Division.
The two teams engaged in a wild opening 20 minutes, resulting in a 4-2 lead for the Rivermen with Victoria holding a 19-18 edge in shots through one period.
Tyler Welsh opened the scoring with his team-leading 19th goal of the season just 23 seconds into the opening period.
Langley tied it at one on Zac Masson’s 11th of the year, a powerplay goal just before the five minute mark, before the teams combined for three goals in just over a minute, resulting in a 3-2 Langley lead.
Marty Westhaver of the Grizzlies and Cameron Ginnetti for Langley each picked up their fifth goals of the season before Max Kaufman’s 14th gave the Rivermen the lead.
With just over a minute remaining in the opening period, Gavin Payne extended Langley’s lead to 4-2 entering the intermission with his sixth goal of the season,
The Rivermen got an early goal in the second period from Sean Gulka, his fourth of the season to extend their lead to 5-2.
Cole Pickup struck on the powerplay for his 18th goal of the year just over a minute into the third period to bring Victoria within a pair.
The score held at 5-3 for most of the third period until Cam Thompson registered his 11th of the season, another powerplay goal, to bring the Grizzlies within a goal with less than four minutes remaining, but that is as close as they would come.
Grizzlies goaltender Matthew Galajda was lifted after allowing four goals on 18 shots in the first period. Tony Rehm came on in relief making 19 saves on 20 shots over the final two periods.
Bo Didur made 44 saves on 48 shots for Langley, who were outshot 48-38 in the victory.
Victoria was 2-4 on the powerplay while the Rivermen went 1-5.
Cole Pickup led all skaters with three points (1 G, 2 A) in defeat for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies cross the border for a showdown with league-leading Wenatchee on Saturday before visiting the Surrey Eagles on Sunday.
Victoria’s next home game takes place on January 12 when the Nanaimo Clippers visit the Q Centre to begin a four game home stand for the Grizzlies.