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The game had great pace from the outset, although not much in the way of glaring mistakes or scoring chances for either side. Just through the midway point of the period the Bulldogs earned a power play chance after a good shift in the Victoria zone. They unfortunately wouldn't be able to generate any chances, or any momentum as they didn't look good on it. The Grizzlies would have the best chance on it, as the Dogs turned the puck over in their zone which saw Keyvan Mokhtari skate in alone from the hash marks only to have Brody Claeys make a big save. Claeys would come up huge again two minutes later, coming across the crease to make a highlight reel save on a wide-open Brett Stirling. The Bulldogs would then create a fantastic scoring chance of their own on a pretty three-way passing play between Jake Witkowski, Alex MacDonald and Auggie Moore that saw Matt Galajda make a right toe save on a wide open net one-time chance in the crease. The Grizzles would open the scoring almost immediately afterwards, as Dayne Finnson walked into the top of the left circle and put a wrist shot on net. The shot appeared to be deflected by a Bulldog, and then again deflected by a Grizzlie in front. It looked high to me, but not high enough to be waved off. Brody Claeys would immediately protest, and the Officials would have a conference. In the end, the goal would stand with Cole Pickup getting credit for it, but as he was behind Claeys it might have been Tyler Welsh's goal or even Finnson's if it went in off a Bulldog. In the end Welsh and Finnson would draw assists on it at 18:33 of the first for a 1-0 Victoria lead after 20 minutes, with shots favouring the Grizzlies 11-8.
The second period was similar to the first, again played at a high pace and end to end. The Dogs did a solid job of killing off a Victoria power play that carried over from the first, and then generated a Grade A scoring chance as Connor Welsh set up Tristan Bukovec wide open in front of the Victoria net with a cross-ice pass. Bukovec would show great patience to walk across the crease and get Galajda down and out, but he unfortunately couldn't lift it over his right pad as it stayed 1-0. Throughout the period the Bulldogs continued to push the pace and win races and battles. They would earn a power play chance with seven minutes to go in the frame, but they wasted the opportunity as they looked atrocious on it and completely out of sync, turning the puck over repeatedly after initially winning the draw and being set up in the zone. The Grizzlies would earn a late-period power play chance, and moved the puck around brilliantly to create several chances, the best of which in the dying seconds of the period that saw Brody Claeys make a great save on a point blank one-timer chance for Tyler Welsh to keep it a 1-0 Grizzlies lead after 40 minutes. The Bulldogs out shot the Grizzlies 8-7 in the period, for an 18-16 total favouring the Grizzlies.
The third period saw the Grizzlies come out with the extra jump in the early minutes of it, but Brody Claeys was good when called upon and the Dogs defence did a good job to support him. A very soft penalty call at centre would see the Grizzlies go to the man advantage, as a Bulldog player fell down and a Grizzlies forward fell over top of him. The Dogs would come up with a solid penalty kill to keep it a one-goal game though. Four minutes later, another very soft call saw the Grizzlies go back to the power play, as Tristan Bukovec tapped Brett Stirling in front of the Victoria net with the puck behind it, resulting in Stirling being spilled. It was a very soft call in my opinion in the back half of the third period in a 1-0 game, but I'm sure I'd want the call made the other way as soft as it was, and as the old adage goes you can't put yourself in a position where an Official will make a call on you - as some have historically exhibited they will do time and time again. It's the penalties such as this one that are the "hard" ones to kill off, and that proved true on this instance as the Grizzlies doubled their lead as Brody Claeys made the first stop with a good shoulder save on a screened point shot, but TJ Friedman found the rebound first and finished it top corner, short-side to make it 2-0 at 11:47 of the third with the assists going to Jake Stevens and Nick Guiney. The fight would go out of the Dogs after that one, as they weren't able to threaten to get back in it, despite Brody Claeys coming up with another breakaway save to give his team a chance. The Grizzlies would make it a 3-0 game into an empty net when they turned it over with a minute to play at the Victoria line as Justin Michaelian scoring unassisted at the 19:00 mark. The Dogs would earn a power play seconds later, but would again cough up the puck at the attacking line with the goalie out to give up a second empty netter and a league-worst 8th shorthanded goal against with Tyler Welsh and Cole Pickup playing catch up ice to make it a 4-0 final at 19:20 of the third.
Shots in the third favoured the Grizzlies 13-4 for a game total of 31-20. Brody Claeys earned second star honours while taking the loss, with Matt Galajda picking up first star honours with the win and the shut out. The Dogs went 0 for 4 on the power play, with the Grizzlies going 1 for 4 while also scoring a shorthanded empty netter.
The Dogs return home tomorrow night to host the Merritt Centennials.