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Doran delivers on Grizzlies’ power play

Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
JANUARY 25, 2018 10:33 PM

All right, fingers on the buzzer for this week’s Victoria Grizzlies trivia question.

Which current member of the club leads the team in power-play scoring?

Veteran Jamie Rome, you say? Wrong.

Twenty-year-old Justin Michaelian, perhaps? Not.

Talented 16-year-old Alex Newhook then? Strike three.

If you answered Matthew Doran, you win the prize.

Yes, the six-foot-one, 200-pound native of St. Louis, Missouri, has nine goals and 20 assists in 43 games this season, leading the team in points among defencemen. Seven of those goals have come with the man advantage as the hulking rearguard moves up front on special teams.

Deft deflections have paid off for Doran, who is tied for ninth in the league in power-play goals. All seven of those man-advantage tallies have come in the last 13 games.

He has potted two goals twice this year, both off power plays, one in a 9-4 win over Nanaimo on Dec. 9, the same Clippers team the Grizzlies face tonight at The Q Centre as they attempt to rebound from a winless three-game weekend.

“I don’t know, just kind of getting lucky out there,” Doran said of his recent fortune. “Playing up front, pucks come my way and I just get a stick on them and things happen. I like it. It’s fun. We’ve got a great power play with the likes of Newhook, Berg [Carter Berger], Notsi [Ethan Nother] and [Lucas] Clark.We have a bunch of scorers on there and it helps. We’ve been producing.”

And it hasn’t gone unnoticed as Doran just committed to an NCAA scholarship from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for next season.

“We’re having a good year and for me, personally, I’m having a good year, too. Things are just clicking,” he said of the opportunities.

As far as power plays go, Newhook, T.J. Friedmann and Michaelian all have six goals apiece for the Grizzlies. Doran has 14 of his 29 points on the man advantage. Newhook leads the team with 17 power-play points, followed by Friedmann with 15, Doran and Clark with 14 each, Nother with 11 and Berger and Dayne Finnson with 10 apiece.

While Doran is loving his lot in life on the blue line, another Grizzlies rearguard is itching to get back in.

Drayson Pears has not played a game since Nov. 11 and is due to be back within the next 5-10 days, awaiting approval for contact from doctors as he rebounds from his shoulder injury. It likely won’t come this weekend, but he could be back for Wednesday in Nanaimo.

“I’m getting anxious to get back into it. I’m excited about getting back in and trying to play my part for the team,” said Pears, an Alaska-Anchorage commit, who made the trip last weekend to Wenatchee (where Doran had two power-play goals in an overtime loss), Langley and Chilliwack.

Tonight and Wednesday will be a chance for the Grizzlies to try to bury Nanaimo (22-20-3-2) in the Island Division standings. The Clippers, in third, have lost seven straight, including a 10-3 pounding in Wenatchee on Saturday. Victoria (24-16-4-2) is tied with Powell River (23-14-4-4) atop the division, but the Kings have a game in hand.

“If we can get a couple of wins against Nanaimo, we can put some distance between us,” said Rome. “Obviously, it’s going to come down to the wire and every game is important from here on out.”

“They’re a good team and they’re going to want to get out of what they’re in,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon. “We want to turn the tide and get back on the winning ways, so it’ll be a big game.

“You want to show them that you’re a good hockey club and not give them any inkling because, you never know, you might see them in the playoffs.”

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