Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
JANUARY 14, 2019 10:01 PM
There’s the old sporting adage about your best players needing to be your best players. The Victoria Grizzlies lived it Sunday with Alex Newhook, Alex Campbell, Carter Berger and Kurtis Chapman shining Sunday in Trail.
Newhook displayed the deft touch that has him projected for the first round of the 2019 NHL draft by scoring twice and adding two assists as Victoria defeated the Smoke Eaters 5-4 on Sunday in the West Kootenays.
“Alex has elevated his game to another level again,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
Newhook leads the B.C. Hockey League in scoring with 69 points, seven points clear of Ryan Brushett of Powell River, who has played three more games. Third-place Mike Hardman of West Kelowna is back at 56 points.
“[Newhook] has hit a different stride,” said Didmon.
“He logged a ton of minutes the night before [scoring a goal in the 3-1 Victoria victory over the Wild in Wenatchee, Washington], and then to have that kind of energy the next day. There is something special about him, no question.”
Victoria forward Campbell is also labelled for the 2019 NHL draft and showed why Sunday by scoring twice and adding an assist against the Interior Division last-place Smoke Eaters (16-20-9).
Grizzlies defenceman Carter Berger, headed next season to UConn of the NCAA and drawing recent NHL interest, had a goal and two assists. Berger leads BCHL blue-liners in goals with 23, five clear of Penticton’s James Miller, and has 47 points to leading Miller’s 52 despite playing four less games.
The 20-year-old veteran goaltender Chapman was full value for the victory with 44 saves.
“No teams take us for granted and they bring out their best game against us, especially in their own barns,” said Didmon.
That’s why he was pleased by the 2-1 record on the three-game road swing.
“The guys played great hockey,” said Didmon.
“The bounces didn’t go our way in the opener in Langley but the last six periods we put together were really strong. I liked our habits and work ethic and our team toughness.”
The Island Division-leading Grizzlies (27-13-2) are in Powell River to take on the division second-place Kings (25-16-1) on Friday and Saturday. The Kings trail the Grizzlies by five points and the series could prove pivotal.
“It’s a huge upcoming weekend for us,” said Didmon.
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