Grizz bear through Vipers, set for home stand

BCHL's first place Victoria Grizzlies pulling off wins despite suspensions

Grizzlies defender Nolan de Jong carries the puck around Vernon Viper Liam Board during the Grizz’ 1-0 win Sunday (Jan. 20) at Bear Mountain Arena.

A “mish mash” lineup isn’t slowing the Victoria Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies were without six of their regulars, all suspended, in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Alberni Bulldogs. But the Grizz bounced back with a 4-2 win over the Cowichan Capitals on Friday and survived a gritty 1-0 win over the Vernon Vipers in a matinee on Sunday at Bear Mountain Arena.

“We played really hard in Alberni, we were without six regulars and had some bounces that didn’t go our way, but rebounded on Friday (against Cowichan) and another big win (Sunday),” coach Bill Bestwick said.

Bestwick did his best to roll four lines through the first two periods but moved to a double shift of the Fitzgerald triplets for a good portion of the third period. It resulted in the winning goal.

Myles Fitzgerald surprised Vipers goalie Austin Smith with a quick shot for the game winner nine minutes into the third period. Smith stopped 37 shots otherwise and was named the games second star behind Michael Stiliadis, who was named the first star for his 23-save shutout.

“I’ve been playing (the Fitzgeralds) more in the third period over last two weeks,” Bestwick said. “I’m a four-line guy. I want to get all four lines engage, but the Fitzgerald don’t get all that tired.”

Most recently the Fitzgeralds have chipped in killing penalties, though Bestwick would prefer to use them on the powerplay and at even strength.

Despite their size, Bestwick says the triplets are deceivingly good at wearing down the opposition in a way that’s different from the hard-hitting ways of players such as Mazurek and converted defenceman Chris Albertini.

“Puck possession is important and (the Fitzgeralds) making the defenders turn in their end and retrieve pucks. (The Fitzgeralds) are as good as anybody because you can’t take chances and be too risky with them or they’ll eat you alive. So they’re a tough line to play, a line I feel comfortable using in any situation.”

Blake Thompson and Pearce Eviston, two of the six Grizzlies to receive suspensions from Jan. 12 game incidents against the Chilliwack Chiefs, served their one game versus Alberni and were back with the team on Friday. Stefan Nicholishen was also suspended for just one game but has not returned and is day-to-day with an injury.

It’s meant a different look to the Grizzlies, who had recently come to rely heavily on the second line of Turner Lawson, David Mazurek and Nikolishen.

“They were our best line, a go-to line for us and have been real good,” Bestwick said. Eviston, a trade deadline acquisition, has partnered up with Myles Powell and Mark McLellan, though all lines other than the Fitzgeralds are subject to change until the multitude of suspensions from the Jan. 12 game are finished.

Suspensions still going

The Grizzlies were hit with 22 games in suspensions for post game fights after the 2-1 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs at Bear Mountain Arena on Jan. 12.

Three players hit the biggest were Lawson, and newcomers Kade Pilton and Keyler Bruce. Lawson got the most with eight games, three for leaving the bench to fight, two for fighting at the end of the period and two more for leaving the bench to provoke an incident. Pilton was next with six games for the same incidents while Bruce got five games, three for leaving the bench to join the fracas and two for a blow to the head.

A complaint by Chris Albertini from that game is being followed up on by West Shore RCMP. One of the Chilliwack Chiefs coaches allegedly swung a stick at Albertini while the latter was in the hallway between the benches.

Junior B call ups

Despite the fact they’re arch rivals in the VIJHL, Brody Coulter as captain of the Victoria Cougars and Shawn McBride a top line winger on the Saanich Braves, the two make a solid fourth line for the Grizzlies with Dante Hahn.

Coulter and McBride even had a chance to score the game’s first goal with a 2-on-1 in the third period, although the pass didn’t make it through the defender. The two will rejoin the Grizzlies when their respective runs for the Island and provincial junior B championships are over.

“Coulter and McBride are both very good players. All this experience is great for McBride, who’ll be with us next year, and we’d like to have (Coulter) every game but we know he’s on a very good team so we’re fortunate to have him.”

Cougar hits 100 points

Last week Coulter became the first  player in Victoria Cougars junior B history to break the century mark.

Coulter scored three goals as the Cougars defeated the visiting Oceanside Generals 5-2 on Thursday at Archie Browning Sports Centre.

The closest a Cougars player ever came was former Grizzly Mike Hammond, who scored 98 points for the  Cougars in 2006-07.

sports@vicnews.com

Just Posted

VicPD honours seven citizens for their courage and dedication

Civic Service Awards presented at ceremony in Hall of Honour

Oak Bay volunteer fair aims to sow seeds of giving time

Oak Bay Volunteer Services hopes to attract the next generation

‘It’s just hair:’ Central Saanich woman chops her locks for Wigs for Kids

Wigs for Kids BC will receive two 12-inch braids from Brentwood Bay resident Liza Glynn

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

Most Read