The Island Division standings look a lot different from the last time the Victoria Grizzlies played back-to-back games against the Powell River Kings.
Back in November, when the Grizzlies split a two-game road trip to the Sunshine Coast, then beat the Kings two games later at The Q Centre, the B.C. Hockey League rivals were neck and neck, as each was trying to gain ground on the other.
As the Grizzlies get set to host the Kings for a two-game set Saturday (Jan. 14, 7 p.m. puck drop) and Sunday (1 p.m.) in Colwood, they’ve opened up a bit more of a spread on Powell River.
The Grizzlies, who sat at 26-8-3-4 heading into tonight’s (Jan. 12, 7 p.m.) home game against Nanaimo entered the week with a 10-point bulge on the second-place Kings.
Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Alberni Valley pulled Powell River (25-16-1-0) a bit closer, but this weekend’s head-to-head action could go a long way toward giving the Grizzlies a stranglehold on top spot, or tightening the race.
Victoria entered this week having gone 1-2 on their mainland road trip.
Sunday’s 7-1 win in Surrey, paced with a three-goal performance from Cole Pickup, salvaged the weekend for the Grizzlies, who lost 4-1 in Wenatchee the night before and 5-4 in Langley last Friday.
Tony Rehm made 36 saves for the win in the Victoria net. The lone Surrey shot to beat him came on a second-period power play, when Darius Davidson tallied to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 3-1.
Marty Westhaver, Nathan Looysen, Jamie Rome and Lucas Clark also scored in the win, while brothers Tyler and Nolan Welsh had a pair of assists each.
A crowd announced as 2,350 watched the Mainland Division and BCHL-leading Wild beat the Grizzlies for the second straight time. Wenatchee had opened up a 3-0 lead by the time the Grizzlies Timothy Friedmann got his team on the board 14:16 into the middle frame.
The Wild outshot Victoria 42-23 in the contest.
Langley caught Grizzlies star goaltender Matthew Galajda on a rare off night last weekend, scoring four times on 18 shots in the first period, prompting coaches to replace him with Rehm to start the second period.
The Grizzlies trailed 4-2 after one period and 5-2 after two, but made the game close with third-period goals from Pickup and Cameron Thompson.
Westhaver and Tyler Welsh also scored in the loss, while Rehm finished with 19 saves in two periods. Pickup, who added two assists, led the team in points to start this week with 52 in 36 games.