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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Grizzlies top Bulldogs 4-1

The Grizzlies opened the scoring before the last reverberations of the opening faceoff had died down, as Ethan Nother found a loose puck and walked over the Bulldogs line up the right side where he zipped a quick release long-side off the post and in past the blocker of John Hawthorne to make it 1-0 just seven seconds into the first, un-assisted. The goal was a silencer for the large crowd, but only for a handful of seconds as the Bulldogs immediately attacked the Grizzlies zone and drew a penalty just 20 seconds later. While they didn't score on the advantage, they did generate a couple good chances and certainly settled any nerves they might have been feeling. The Grizzlies however put the pressure back on just short of seven minutes in when a rink-wide feed from the right half wall in the Bulldogs zone was found in the deep slot by Dayne Finnson. He walked in tight through the left circle where he put a perfect top corner shot short-side over the blocker of Hawthorne to make it 2-0, with assists to Ethan Nother and Drayson Pears at 6:56 of the first. The Grizzlies pushed hard on the next shift as the Dogs fought to turn the tide, but they did so quickly by drawing a penalty when Jamie Rome left his feet to hit Grayson Valente. A second penalty on a stick battle at the Victoria line seconds later resulted in a 5 on 3 power play for the Bulldogs of over a 1:20 in duration. It would take just nine seconds for them to take advantage of it, as Cole Poliziani took a Mitch Oliver pass at the top of the point and dished it off to the bottom of the left circle for Keaton Mastrodonato. He would make a perfect cross-crease pass for Michael Sacco, who one-timed it home into the open side past the glove of Chapman to make it 2-1 at 9:19 of the first. The Bulldogs couldn't take advantage of the momentum of remaining power play time as the Grizzlies killed it off. Victoria then pushed to try and pad their lead, with John Hawthorne coming up with a couple great saves, most notably on Ethan Nother in tight. The Grizzlies drew a power play late in the period and threatened including hitting the post, but couldn't cash in. Another Bulldog penalty came with just two seconds to play in the period. Shots after 20 minutes were 16-15 Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies restored their two goal lead before the second was a minute old, as Justin Michaelian took a hit over the Bulldog line up the right wing but managed to get the puck in deep. Matt Doran would find it, and made a perfect pass to the hash marks for Cameron Thompson, who one-timed it through the legs of Hawthorne to make it 3-1 at 58 seconds of the second. The Grizzlies pushed with the momentum in the following minutes but the Dogs held the fort to keep it a two-goal game. They would earn a four minute power play just over five minutes into the period when Ryan Nolan was called for back to back hits that one could argue were examples of targeting - one being called for charging, the other for a blow to the head with the accompanying misconduct. The Bulldogs weren't able to take advantage of it, appearing again to fight the puck a bit to the point that they conceded a breakaway that saw Marty Westhaver awarded a penalty shot that appeared to have minimal contact from the Bulldog backchecker. Hawthorne would stand a tall, with a big blocker save to keep the Dogs within two. Another shorthanded breakaway was allowed later in the period, with Hawthorne again coming up with a save on Cameron Thompson. Hawthorne continued to come up huge in the following minutes, with back to back saves on Shawn O'Malley on a one-timer from the slot, and a follow up rebound chance for Cameron Thompson. The Grizzlies pressed and built their lead to 4-1 late in the period, on an interesting play as Jamie Rome drove the net and was checked, and then got tied up on the ice with Mitch Oliver up the wall. Play continued as they fought on the ice away from the puck, and the Grizzlies worked a 2 on 1 down low to perfection as Ethan Nother slid it cross-crease under a defenders stick onto the tape of Alex Newhook who roofed it on a one-touch short-side over Hawthorne at 15:53 of the period. Shots in the frame were 16-12 Grizzlies, for a game total in their favour of 32-27 after 40 minutes.

The third period saw the Bulldogs get off to a good start for the first few minutes, but they lacked the extra jam to get enough offensive pressure to trim the deficit. They earned another power play four minutes in, but once again looked out of sorts on it and if anything lost momentum. Victoria earned a power play a few minutes later, but the Bulldogs did a good job to kill it off to keep within striking distance. They earned a couple more power play opportunities through the back half of the third, but rarely threatened as the Grizzlies made the lead stand. The hockey wasn't the prettiest to watch, as it was thoroughly nasty as the Officials did a commendable job of trying to keep the game under control.

Third period shots were 8-7 Grizzlies for a game total in their favour of 40-34 with Kurtis Chapman earning the win while John Hawthorne took the loss. The Bulldogs went 1 for 10 on the power play while the Grizzlies went 1 for 3.

With the win, the Grizzlies have forced a Game 5 Friday night at the Q Centre.



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