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Victoria Grizzlies’ party loses fizz

Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
SEPTEMBER 28, 2019 10:06 PM

POWELL RIVER 3
VICTORIA 1

The Powell River Kings crashed the Victoria Grizzlies’ party Saturday night at The Q Centre and spoiled the festivities for the 1,574 fans at the club’s B.C. Hockey League home opener.

On a night when the franchise honoured its past stars — Stanley Cup champion Tyler Bozak, Olympic gold medallist Jamie Benn and 2019 NHL first-round draft pick Alex Newhook — with a special pre-game video tribute, and sported retro Victoria Salsa jerseys, it was the Kings who stole the spotlight, opening the scoring at the four-minute mark, then fending off surge after surge by the home team to down the Grizzlies 3-1.

The Kings (6-2) kept pace with the division-leading Cowichan Valley Capitals, while handing the Grizzlies (3-5) their third straight defeat.

The Grizzlies went down early, but midway through the second period the home team shifted gears and the visitors only survived because of their 20-year-old netminder Matteo Paler-Chow.

He stymied the Grizzlies on every chance, helped by the post once and the crossbar twice, until rookie defenceman James Davenport brought the home crowd to its feet with a high wrister from the slot with three minutes left in regulation that cut the Powell River lead to 2-1. The waves kept coming from the Grizzlies, but Paler-Chow stood his ground and, with 10 seconds left, Hunter McCoy hit the empty net to secure victory for the Kings.

Reilly Moran, who is headed to Army of the NCAA next fall, was the first King to beat Joe Howe in the Victoria net. Midway through the second, Michael Abgrall made it 2-0 visitors. Howe finished with 21 saves, while Paler-Chow stopped 30 Grizzlies shots.

The Grizzlies face a short week as they head over to Chilliwack for the Bauer BCHL Showcase where they’ll face these same Kings on Wednesday at 4 p.m., followed by a Thursday morning contest against the Nanaimo Clippers. Victoria then returns home to face Powell River again next Sunday at The Q Centre.

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