Grizzlies forward Luc Pelletier tips the puck on Port Alberni Bulldogs goaltender Hobie Hedquist during Game 4 at The Q Centre. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST)
It was the final curtain call in Colwood for the players departing the Victoria Grizzlies.
That’s a part of hockey. That’s a part of life,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Rylan Ferster.
The Grizzlies were swept from the B.C. Hockey League playoffs as the Coastal Conference third-seed Alberni Valley Bulldogs defeated the sixth-seed Grizzlies 6-4 before 1,333 fans at The Q Centre on Wednesday night to win the best-of-seven conference quarter-final series 4-0.
There is always a melancholy air to elimination games, especially for players who know they won’t be returning. Grizzlies captain and NHL San Jose Sharks draft pick Eli Barnett is off next season to the University of Vermont Catamounts, forward Jack Gorton to current NCAA Frozen Four team Boston University, forward Owen Bohn to Augustana University and goaltender Ansel Holt to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The graduating 20-year-olds are assistant captains Noah Leibl and Devon deVries and Olivier Picard, the latter who at least leaves junior hockey with a Memorial Cup ring from last year with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
“We competed hard and I’m proud of the guys,” said Ferster.
“That’s a very good Alberni Valley team.”
Bohn concluded his junior career with two goals Wednesday, for four in the series, while Anthony Carone and Luc Pelletier scored the other Victoria goals. Dakota MacIntosh scored twice for Alberni Valley and had four goals in the series. The Bulldogs also got goals from Nebraska-Omaha NCAA-bound Matthew Maltais, his third of the series, A.J. Vasko with his second, Will Elger with his first and Nebraska-Omaha committed Emanuelson Charbonneau with his first goal and fifth point of the series.
Hobie Hedquist, headed to NCAA traditional power North Dakota, made 29 saves in goal for Alberni Valley. Grizzlies goaltender Oliver Auyeung-Ashton, one of three finalists for both the BCHL rookie-of-the-year and top goaltender awards, made 29 saves.
The Bulldogs won the first three games 7-5, 4-0, 6-2 and advanced to the Coastal Conference semifinals on a torrid 25-4-1 overall run since the Christmas break.
In the other Coastal Conference playoff quarter-final series, the conference top-seed Nanaimo Clippers — with interim coach Dave Liffiton behind the bench in place of the suspended Colin Birkas — are tied 2-2 against the surprisingly resilient eighth-seed Langley Rivermen heading into the fifth game tonight at Frank Crane Arena in the Harbour City. The second-seed Surrey Eagles lead the seventh-seed Powell River Kings 3-1 heading into their fifth game tonight on the Lower Mainland. The fifth-seed Chilliwack Chiefs lead the fourth-seed Coquitlam Express 3-1 in their series after the Chiefs won 7-2 on Wednesday night in the Fraser Valley.