Bulldogs keep playoff drive alive
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ playoff hopes against Nanaimo are still alive as the team is set to square off against the Clippers for Game 5 of their B.C. Hockey League Coastal Conference playoff series.
The Bulldogs beat the Clippers 3-2 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Tuesday night. The series is now tied 2-2 as they head into the final game of the series on Wednesday night at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo.
“These guys have the will to win. They want to show the world they are winners,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Willison said after Tuesday’s game.
All the lines played well but goaltender Jay Deo made the difference, Willison said. Deo turned away 41 shots on the night, and helped stave off a Nanaimo push at the end of the third period.
“He made the saves and came up big,” Willison said.
Evan Tironese opened the scoring at 5:42 in the second period on a pass from Ryan Lough. Manny Gialedakis added another at 8:53 to make it 2-0.
Nanaimo came back in the second half of the third period. Reid Sturos scored to make it 2-1 but Bulldogs’ blueliner Chase Van Allen scored just over 20 seconds later to make it 3-1. Sturos scored his second goal of the night with 20 seconds left, but the Bulldogs hung on for the win.
The difference between winning and losing boiled down to several intangibles, Willison said.
The Bulldogs carried momentum from Monday night’s win at home, and from playing the Clippers tight in Nanaimo despite leaving 0-2. As well, they played with desperation but stayed composed doing so.
The Bulldogs’ younger players are experiencing playoff pressure for the first time and there was a hiccup or two, Willison said. But, those young players have young legs, and their speed wore the larger Clippers down, he added.
“They’re young and they lost their composure a bit. The defense gave me a few more grey hairs tonight,” Willison said. “But at the end of the day they got the win.”
The last five minutes of the game were critical, he said. Nanaimo pulled close and Willison called a time out to reboot the team’s hard drive. “I told them to take a breath. That it was just one more shift for them and we’ve got the win and they did it.”
The series is even but the Bulldogs backs are still against the wall because after tomorrow one team will go home, Willison said.
Winning will boil down to one intangible — composure, Willison said. “They’ve got to keep their composure under pressure and stick to the game plan,” he said.