Grizzlies defenceman James Davenport makes a move around Silverbacks blue-liner Akito Hirose at The Q Centre.
Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST
Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
MARCH 3, 2020 10:09 PM
They went out with sticks and heads held high.
The Victoria Grizzlies, many with tears in their eyes, circled The Q Centre ice for the last time this season to acknowledge their supporters Tuesday night following elimination from the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks edged the Grizzlies 3-2 in sweeping their opening-round series 4-0. The Silverbacks, with a near-impenetrable defence, held the Grizzlies to five goals in the series.
Three of the games were decided by one goal.
“It didn’t feel like a sweep,” said Grizzlies captain Marty Westhaver.
“We were in every game. We gave it our all. There are no regrets.”
The hometown product played the final game of his four-season Grizzlies career before he heads to the NCAA Div. 1 at Alabama-Huntsville next season.
“I will never forget these four years,” said Westhaver.
“It was a first-class experience with a first-class organization. It has been awesome.”
Grizzlies leading goal-scorer Henri Schreifels is headed to NCAA Div. 1 Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall after two seasons in Victoria.
“These have been my favourite two years,” said the Californian.
“I love this place and this team. I don’t have a bad word to say about them. I wish it could have gone on longer, but it ended in the league semifinals last year and in the first round this year. We battled but things didn’t go our way.”
Schreifels finally got on the board in the series in the first period Tuesday to give the hosts the lead. It was a lift for a team in dire need of one in the series.
Goals at the end of periods, however, are boosts for the scoring team and deflating for the victimized squad. That is in direct correlation to just how close to the end the goal occurs. So Luke Mylymok’s goal to tie the game 1-1 with just three seconds remaining in the first period was demoralizing on any number of levels for Victoria.
It was the fourth goal of the series for Mylymok, who almost singlehandedly destroyed Victoria’s hopes. He has an interesting local history of more than just a strong extended family connection to the Island. Mylymok was selected by the Victoria Royals in the 2016 WHL bantam draft but has chosen a pending NCAA Div. 1 route through Minnesota-Duluth.
Logan Shaw gave Salmon Arm the lead at 2:51 of the second period. A controversial goal at 7:34 of the third period stood as the winner. Silverbacks defenceman Kieran Ruscheinski crashed into Victoria goalie Liam Souliere and was assessed a goaltender interference penalty. But the referees ruled the puck rolled into the net before the contact as Ruscheinski was awarded a goal and dealt a penalty on the same play. That’s not something that happens too often and the home crowd lustily derided the call.
Westhaver, playing his career 34th BCHL playoff contest, made it 3-2 on the ensuing power play.
The crossover series was between the Interior third-seed Silverbacks (30-23-5 in the regular season) and Island Division fifth-place Grizzlies (24-33-1).
The goaltending battle was top notch. Ethan Langenegger of Salmon Arm, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Lake Superior State, made 28 saves Tuesday. Victoria’s NCAA Penn State Nittany Lions-bound goaltender, 20-year-old Souliere, made 24 saves.
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