BRIAN DREWRY / TIMES COLONIST
SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 10:48 PM
LANGLEY 3 (OT)
From Day 1 of training camp, Craig Didmon preached depth among his forward crew, rather than one or two great snipers and a big drop off after that.
On Saturday night at The Q Centre, the Victoria Grizzlies general manager and head coach saw that finally come to fruition.
With three goals from a new-look top line and another from revamped second, the Grizzlies bounced back from a tough loss the night before and defeated the Langley Rivermen 4-3 in overtime, much to the delight of the 932 fans in attendance.
Didmon tweaked his line combinations from Friday and may have now found the chemistry he has been looking for as Marty Westhaver scored his first two goals of the season including firing a high wrist shot 1:32 into overtime to give the home team the victory.
“We spread the lines out a little bit more so other teams don’t really know who to match and it gives us a weapon on each line and it paid off tonight,” said Didmon, whose club improves to 5-3 on the season.
Despite the improved offence, the Grizzlies continue to have problems in their own end.
Turnovers resulted in Langley scoring twice in the last 1:36 to come away with a point.
And if it wasn’t for the standout play of rookie netminder Zack Rose, the Grizzlies’ fate might have been different as the Rivermen outshot the Grizzlies 36-30. Victoria has now been outshot in every game it has played this season.
“It’s some early season things that we have to work on and this is a good lesson for the guys,” Didmon said.
“It wasn’t a division game, so giving up the point isn’t crucial, but if we hadn’t got two it would have been very disappointing.”
Westhaver was the biggest benefactor of the line changes as the 18-year-old speedster got bumped up to the No. 1 unit with veterans Jamie Rome and Lucas Clark.
It only took the line 47 seconds to open the scoring with Westhaver finishing a nice feed from blue-liner Dayne Finnson.
But it was the OT winner that drew most of the attention.
After Alex Newhook stripped the Langley defenceman at the blue line and fed a quick pass to Westhaver, the fleet-footed winger saw an opening.
“I was thinking pass at first because I knew Newhook was there with me, but the defenceman gave me an opening and I took it,” said Westhaver, who now has two goals and two assists on the season.
“And they always say it never hurts to shoot.”
Rivermen 20-year-old Nic Ponak got his first of two at 6:40 of the first that drew Langley even, but with 1:29 left in the period, Ethan Nother swatted home a Ryan Nolan rebound and the Grizzlies had the lead they kept until late in regulation.
Rome finished off a Clark pass from in close late in the second to give the Grizzlies some much-needed breathing room before Langley’s late-game push.
Alex Capstick beat Rose with 1:36 left and then with 57 seconds remaining, Ponak struck again to send the game to OT.
The Grizzlies now turn their attention to the Cowichan Valley Capitals who visit The Q Centre next Friday night.
LOOSE PUCKS: Newhook’s assist on the winner gives him 11 helpers on the season, which is tied for tops in the league. . . . Grizzlies defenceman Jacson Alexander sat out Saturday after injuring his shoulder the night before.