Grizzlies defenceman Carter Berger celebrates his first-period goal Friday night at The Q Centre in Colwood.
Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST
Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
JANUARY 4, 2019 10:04 PM
With a heavyweight tilt looming on Sunday with the league-leading Prince George Spruce Kings, the Victoria Grizzlies showed they’re more than ready for a shot at the title.
The Grizzlies scored four second-period goals — one on the power play, one shorthanded and two at even strength — to down the Langley Rivermen 6-4 on Friday night at The Q Centre.
The victory moves the Island Division-leading Grizzlies (24-12-0-2) within three points of the Spruce Kings (25-9-1-2), who were playing in Merritt on Friday night.
Veterans Carter Berger and Alex Newhook got the Grizzlies’ offence started, with Berger striking first midway through the first period to offset Tanner Versluis’s opener at the four-minute mark.
Berger opened the second with a high wrister from the point on a power play that found its way past Rivermen netminder Braedon Fleming. It was the UConn-bound blue-liner from North Vancouver’s 20th goal of the season, tops among all BCHL defencemen.
Marty Westhaver shorthanded, Newhook with his 20th, and defenceman Jarrin Sutton with his first career BCHL goal, sent the Grizzlies to the second intermission with a 5-1 lead.
Guilty of taking their foot off the gas, the Grizzlies gave the Rivermen (18-19-1-0) some life in the third and the squad from Langley, which came into the game with back-to-back wins, took advantage.
Versluis added a couple more power-play goals to cut the Victoria lead to 5-3 late in the third. But an empty-net goal by Grizzlies’ blue-liner Nico Somerville with 29 seconds left in regulation put the game on ice.
Newhook, bound for Boston College of the NCAA next fall, finished with a goal and an assist to push his league-leading point total to 61.
Kurtis Chapman made 28 saves in the Grizzlies’ net to pick up his 17th win of the season. Fleming let in five goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Shayne Battler after Sutton’s goal late in the second.
Sunday’s game at The Q Centre is a 2 p.m. start.
LOOSE PUCKS: After Sunday’s game, the Grizzlies head to Langley on Friday to face the Rivermen again in the first of six straight games on the road.
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