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Victoria Grizzlies clip Caps in OT to stay atop Island Division

Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
APRIL 27, 2021 10:21 PM

The B.C. Hockey League made it official Tuesday, to the surprise of nobody, that there won’t be playoffs.

So the Victoria Grizzlies have created a playoff scenario of their own making.

“We’ve created a mindset where we want to beat each of the other teams four times to prove to ourselves we would be successful in a best-of-seven playoff series against them,” said Craig Didmon, head coach and GM of the Grizzlies.

That’s a victory of the mind. The real prize now becomes the title of the BCHL Island Division regular season, in which the teams are playing 20 games each in the Port Alberni hub.

In place of a post-season and year-end awards, a champion from each of the league’s five hubs will be determined based on total points in the table or winning percentage if the games played were not equal. Each hub will hand out individual awards for MVP, leading scorer, rookie of the year, best defenceman and top goaltender.

“That’s where we’re at. But anytime there’s an opportunity to win something, you go for it,” said Didmon.

The Grizzlies (11-3) added to their lead in the race for the Island Division championship with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals (3-9-2) on Tuesday night at Weyerhaeuser Arena.

Kahlil Fontana gave the Capitals the lead before Henri Schreifels, with his ninth of the season, and rookie Matthew Wood gave the Grizzlies the lead in the first period. Max Bulawka tied it for Cowichan Valley in the third period. Ellis Rickwood, with his league-leading 13th goal of the season, won it for Victoria unassisted at 1:33 of overtime as his stock continues to rise among NCAA Div. 1 and NHL scouts.

Dryden DeMelo, making his first appearance, blocked 28 shots in goal for the Grizzlies. Lucas Pfeil made 31 saves for the Capitals.

The victory moved the Grizzlies five points ahead of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (7-2-3), although the Bulldogs have two games in hand.

“It’s hockey and anything can happen,” said Didmon.

“Alberni Valley is playing well. Nanaimo (5-7) has had injury issues but they will get going again and the Capitals get better each time out.”

As they showed Tuesday night.

Alberni Valley meets Nanaimo tonight and Friday. Victoria plays Nanaimo on Saturday night while Alberni Valley meets Cowichan Valley earlier that day in a matinee. Victoria closes out the week in a game against Cowichan Valley on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the BCHL said the current COVID-19 restrictions in the province made changing cohorts, which a post-season leading to a league champion would have required, made it unfeasible to conduct playoff rounds. So the Fred Page Cup will not be awarded for a second consecutive year and neither will the traditional league awards be handed out.

“Since we were shut down in November, our priority was to provide our athletes with an opportunity to showcase themselves to NCAA coaches and NHL scouts,” said BCHL executive director Steven Cocker, in a statement.

“We are thrilled that we were able to reward our players for all of the hard work they put in during what was a difficult and challenging season. We look forward to returning to a more normal schedule next year and once again crowning a BCHL champion.”

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