It definately looked like a pre-Christmas game early, especially for the Bulldogs as they didn't look sharp, misfiring on passes in their own zone and through centre, allowing the Grizzlies to carry the better of the play and earn the first power play while building up a 7-2 advantage in shots. The Bulldogs would do a good job of killing it off, and shortly afterwards earned a power play of their own. They would connect on the power play with several good efforts initially to keep the puck in. Hunter Stewart would find Mak Barden at the right point where he threw a slap shot on net that was tipped home by Mitch Makin just over the goal line at 10:26 of the first on the power play to make it 1-0 Bulldogs. The Dogs had several chances to build the lead, but they couldn't connect. The Grizzlies would tie the game with less than four minutes to play the period when the Dogs got caught standing around watching in their own end as Tyger Howat made a good first save but kicked out a rebound that Shawn McBride roofed into the open side. Assists on the play went to Jesse Schwartz and Myles Fitzgerald at 15:35 of the first. Just seconds later, the Bulldogs would be sent to the penalty box. They would successfully kill it off, before a blown call turned the game in the Grizzlies favour when Hunter Stewart got taken down by Jacob Kearley, who appeared to first put a stick over the arms of Stewart, and then a stick into the feet of Stewart to take him down. The Referee would look on stunned, as Kearley picked the puck up and threw a cross-ice pass onto the tape of Jesse Schwartz who beat Howat with a wrist shot far-side to make it 2-1 at 17:54. If you would like to see it yourself, watch the below video
It was 3-1 just 13 seconds later when Mark MacLellan was sent in alone on a breakaway with a nice stretch pass and the Dogs defence caught snoozing where he went top corner, glove side on Howat. Assists went to Storm Wahlrab and Rory McGuire at 18:07 of the first with Connor LaCouvee entering the Bulldog net off the bench, with the Grizzlies taking the lead into the room after one with a 14-5 lead in shots.
The second period was for the first half uneventful, like the first period, with neither team finding the net. The Grizzlies would get a power play at the midway point but they were unable to find the net with Connor LaCouvee making several good saves in tight. Action would pick up in the latter stages of the frame, with the Grizzlies being awarded a penalty shot when Cole Pickup was hooked by Kurt Gosselin on a breakaway. He would make good on the penalty shot chance with a quick release, low blocker on LaCouvee at 13:19 to make it 4-1. For the second time in the game, the Grizzlies would score twice in less than a minute as the Bulldogs failed on several instances to get the puck out of their zone, allowing mutliple chances that eventually ended up in the back of their net as Myles Fitzgerald scored on a banker from a sharp angle at the bottom of the left circle that appeared to go off LaCouvee, the post, and in. Assists on the goal went to Jesse Schwartz and Jay Mackie at 14:13 of the second with the Grizzlies leading 5-1 after one with a 27-14 lead in shots.
The third period was for the most part uneventful as both teams appeared to head out on the Christmas break early as the teams combined for 9 shots through 15:00 minutes, including two power plays aside. The game would turn heated late, but in large part no major skirmishes broke out. Neither team would find the net as the Grizzlies skated to the 5-1 win.
Final shots favoured Victoria 34-22 with Tyger Howat getting tagged with the loss giving up the first three goals before giving way to Connor LaCouvee, while Alec Dillon picked up 3rd star honours with the win in the Victoria net. The Dogs went 1 for 6 on the power play while the Grizzlies went 0 for 7.
A MUCH needed Christmas break for all, a disappointing way to head into it with the result in this one, but I'll end it on a positive note with the big win last night trimming the gap to just three points with the Dogs still holding a game in hand. It's been a trying first part of the season, and here's hoping the break will do everyone good.
Safe travels to all, and safe times at home. Enjoy the time with your families, and families enjoy your time with your boys who have been gone so long. Don't feed them too much turkey and Christmas treats!
Thanks to everyone that made the Bulldog and BCHL Christmas greetings happen, and thanks as well to everyone that have given me gifts over the last couple of games. Thanks as well to those parents and fans that made blog donations as Christmas presents - certainly unexpected, but I very much appreciate your generosity!