Grizzlies strike early, often against Rivermen

VICTORIA, B.C.: January, 14, 2023 – Victoria Grizzlies Luck Pelletier (centre) hits the puck in for a goal on Langley Rivermen goaltender Taje Gill.

Brian Drewry

A rare mid-season Friday night off was just what the doctor ordered for the Victoria Grizzlies.

After losses to Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo last weekend, the Grizzlies, with fresh legs having not played in seven days, struck early against the Langley Rivermen on Saturday night at The Q Centre and never looked back.

Reegan Hiscock, recently NCAA committed to Northeastern University in Boston, buried a rebound just 16 seconds into the game to get the Grizzlies started against a Rivermen team that played the night before in Alberni Valley. By the time the opening period was over, Jack Gorton and Owen Bohn had also found the back of the net for the Grizzlies who went on to defeat the Rivermen 5-2 in front of 1,439 fans.

Luc Pelletier, who recently committed to an NCAA scholarship from Princeton University, struck on a power play 4:43 into the second to give the Grizzlies some breathing room and a 4-0 lead.

The Rivermen made a game of it in the third period with Nick Messina and Vitaly Levyy, on a power play, scoring to cut the Grizzlies’ lead in half, but just 30 seconds after Levyy’s goal, Gorton, bound for the NCAA and Boston University in the fall, fired a wrister from the slot for his second goal of the game to put the game out of reach.

He didn’t have much work, but Oliver Auyeung-Ashton was sharp as a tack in making 27 saves to pick up his 12th win of the season.

The 17-year-old rookie from Coquitlam also improved upon his league-best .939 save percentage and slightly lowered his goals-against average, which was a league second-best 2.02 coming into Saturday’s game.

The win moved the Grizzlies (16-12-3-2) into a tie with Coquitlam for third place in the Coastal Conference. The Rivermen (10-21-1-2) remain in eighth place in the conference, six points clear of Cowichan Valley in the race for the final playoff spot.

The Grizzlies, or at least most of them, now get an extended break due to the next weekend’s BCHL all-star weekend. Victoria doesn’t return to game action until Jan. 27 when they play the first of a home-and-home set with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at The Q Centre.

The next day the Grizzlies head to the Alberni Valley Multiplex for the return match.