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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dogs beat Grizzlies 6-2, tied for 4th

Great pace from the get go in this one with a good crowd on hand at the Dog Pound and both teams coming out of the gate ready to play. The Grizzlies would have a great chance in the first half minute on a give-and-go on the rush, where Connor LaCouvee made a great glove save on a Jaden Schmeisser tip-in attempt. The Bulldogs would take an early penalty, but again LaCouvee was solid and so were his penalty killers as it stayed 0-0. The Bulldogs would open the scoring on the power play in the back half of the first when Kurt Gosselin found Harlan Orr at the top of the left circle, where he put a low wrist shot on net that was stopped by Nic Renyard. A scramble would ensue on the rebound, and Craig Martin found it and roofed it under the bar for a 1-0 lead at 12:48 with the assists going to Scottie Clark and Tryg Strand. It was 3-0 Dogs three minutes later when Mitch Owsley fought the puck out of his own end to centre ice for Craig Martin, who found Owsley in the Grizzlies zone. He would walk up the right wing towards the point before finding Kurt Gosselin in the high slot where he ripped one top corner, past the blocker of Renyard to make it 2-0 at 15:57 of the first. The Grizzlies had a great chance to get on the board late in the frame when Jay Mackie raced in on a breakaway after a Bulldog turn over at their own line. Mackie would be able to get a shot away while being bugged by a defender from behind, but LaCouvee came up with the stop to preserve the lead, with the Dogs up in the shots 16-9 after 20 minutes.   

The second period started absolutely wacky, with Scott Clark chasing a dump in up the right wing that hit the skate of the Referee, with goalie Nic Renyard out of his net to play the puck. Clark would score into the open net to make it 3-0, just 14 seconds into the period. There was no assist on the play, but I believe Harlan Orr played it ahead. The Bulldogs would almost IMMEDIATELY pay for the honest mistake by the Official, as wouldn't you know it, they found themselves down two men less than a minute later. The Grizzlies would connect early on the two man advantage as Garrett Forster walked into the high slot where he beat LaCouvee under the glove, with assists to Leo Fitzgerald and Brandon Egli at 1:27. The Grizzlies would remain on the power play, and get another 5 on 3 on another penalty, but the Dogs killed it off to protect the 3-1 lead. They would make it 4-1 shortly after their parade to the penalty box ended as Darian Henry let a bullet of a slap shot go from the blue line on the rush that resulted in a big rebound to the slot that was one-timed home by Justin Georgeson through the legs of Renyard. Tryg Strand also drew an assist on the play at 5:11 of the second, as Renyard's night ended with 4 goals allowed on 19 shots as Alec Dillon entered the game in relief. The Dogs would get their turn on the power play three minutes later and they connected to make it 5-1 on a pretty set up as Hunter Stewart fed the puck back to the right point for Darian Henry who walked in and put a perfect back-door pass onto the tape of Mitch Owsley who made no mistake one-timing it home at 8:40 of the second. The Grizzlies would make it 5-2 in controversial fashion late in the period when Myles Fitzgerald lept off his feet and elbowed Garrett Halls in the head at the attacking blue line, with neither of the two Referees electing to call a penalty. The Grizzlies would score on the rush just seconds later as Jaden Schmeisser took a cross-ice pass from Cole Pickup in the right circle where he scored top corner, short-side on LaCouvee with Myles Fitzgerald also drawing an assist at 14:40 of the second to make it 5-2 after 40 minutes, with the Dogs outshooting the Grizz 30-20. 

The third period saw another plethora of penalties both ways. The Bulldogs would initially be down a man for four minutes on a high sticking double minor but they drew a penalty after outstanding work by Dylan Haugen and Zach Funk. The Grizzlies Bench would then pick up a minor penalty, bringing about a 4 on 3 advantage. They would connect on it when Kurt Gosselin put the puck into the left corner for Justin Georgeson, who set up Darian Henry in the slot where he fired one net that was stopped by Dillon, only to see the rebound his his defence and go in to make it a 6-2 final, with assists going to Jake Kauppila and Justin Georgeson at 9:26 of the third period. There were several nasty instances throughout the remainder of the game, most notably with just under four minutes to play as Darian Henry and Leo Fitzgerald exchanged slashes at centre ice, before Henry dropped Leo, who layed motionless on the ice before popping up as the remaining players on the ice engaged in a drawn out skirmish in the Dogs zone that appeared to be over several times, before erupting again by what appeared to be cheap shots. In the end, the Dogs would be down a man once again for four minutes with a handful of ejections coming to Darian Henry, Kurt Gosselin, Myles Fitzgerald, Gerry Fitzgerald, and after the fact, Chris Albertini, with the Dogs holding the fort and killing off the rest of the clock to preserve the 6-2 lead.

Final shots favoured the Dogs 37-35 with Connor LaCouvee picking up the win while Nic Renyard took the loss, being replaced by Alec Dillon after the 4th Dogs goal. I had the Dogs at 3 for 5 on the power play while the Grizzlies went 1 for 10.

The win - the first for the Dogs over the Grizzlies this season, coupled with a 5-2 Cowichan loss in Powell River, sees the two teams tied for the final Island Division Playoff spot with two games remaining. The Dogs next see action Tuesday night in Powell River, before hosting the Kings Saturday night at the Dog Pound. 

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