Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Victoria Grizzlies (25-16-4-3) at Nanaimo Clippers (23-20-3-3)
7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo
Presented by the BCIHL
The two teams have met seven times already this season. Victoria leads the season series with a record of 4-1-0-2. In their first meeting of the season on Sept. 16 in Nanaimo, the Clippers got their lone win over the Grizzlies by a score of 5-2, led by a goal and an assist by Parker Colley. On Oct. 7, Victoria evened the season series when Ethan Nother scored late in the third period to give the Grizzlies a 3-2 road win. Led by two-point performances by Nother, Alex Newhook and Lucas Clark, Victoria won again on Oct. 25 in Nanaimo by a score of 4-1.
The Nov. 24 game in Victoria was a goaltending battle as Clippers goalie Taz Burman stopped 48 of 50 shots and Grizzlies goalie Zachary Rose stopped 35 of 37 and the teams played to a 2-2 draw. On Dec. 9, Victoria exploded offensively as they got four-point efforts from defencemen Matthew Doran and Carter Berger as well as Newhook en route to a 9-4 home win. The Grizzlies won again on Jan. 9 at home by a score of 6-3, led by multi-point efforts from Shawn O’Malley, Newhook, Cameron Thompson, Ryan Nolan and Clark. In the most recent meeting between the teams on Jan. 26 in Victoria, Cal Babych tied the game for Nanaimo with a shorthanded goal with seven seconds left in the third period to force overtime and the game eventually ended in a 3-3 tie.
Victoria forward Alex Newhook is the second-leading scorer in the BCHL with 61 points (22-39-61) in 42 games. His 1.45 points-per-game is the highest in the league. Newhook and teammate Justin Michaelian are tied for seventh in the league with 22 goals each. The Grizzlies have another forward in the top-20 in scoring, Jamie Rome is tied for 11th in the BCHL with 49 points (14-35-49) in 46 games. Victoria is also getting plenty of scoring from the back-end, Matthew Doran is is tied for ninth in scoring among blueliners with 31 points (8-23-31) and Carter Berger (8-22-30) and Dayne Finnson (4-26-30) are tied for tenth with 30 points each. Grizzlies goalie Zachary Rose ranks fourth in the BCHL in save percentage at .919. He has a record of 14-11-1 with two shutouts.
Nanaimo goalie Taz Burman ranks sixth in the BCHL in both save percentage (.917) and goals-against average (2.61). He has a record of 14-11-2 with one shutout. Clippers forward Tristan Crozier is tied for 13th in the league with 48 points (15-33-48). Nanaimo’s second-leading scorer is Jake Harris who has 40 points (18-22-40) in 35 games. The Clippers get points from their defencemen by committee as David Melaragni has 24 points (6-19-25) and both Maxwell Crozier (5-19-24) and Jordan Wharrie (3-21-24) have 24 points each.
What’s at Stake
The top of the Island Division standings are tight as Victoria leads the division with 57 points. Third-place Nanaimo is only five points back of first place with 52 points. In between them are the second-place Powell River Kings who have 55 points and are only two back of the division lead.
After going winless in eight games, the Clippers won their last game 4-3 in overtime over Powell River and will look to continue their winning ways against the Grizzlies tonight. Victoria recently snapped a four-game winless streak by beating the league-best Penticton Vees 6-3 and will also look to carry that momentum into tonight’s game.
Victoria Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon on facing Nanaimo tonight:
“They work hard. They’ve got a lot of skill. They move the puck well and their specialty teams are good as well.
“[We need to] play our game, play with some energy right away and get our speed up and outwork them.”
Didmon on his team’s third-ranked offense:
“The guys have worked hard and worked on their skills. They’ve been shooting the puck a little harder and getting it off a little quicker. A lot of guys are finding chemistry with each other as well. The D have really helped out in that regard too. It’s just guys working hard and finding chemsitry.”
Didmon on his team’s leading scorer Alex Newhook who has climbed to second in BCHL scoring:
“Obviously he’s a great offensive player for us and also inspires the group with his play. He’s got a lot of enthusiasm for the game and I think the group feeds off that for sure.”
Didmon on his team snapping their four-game winless streak against Penticton in their last game:
“Even when we were losing those games we were still playing hard and well. It’s just a tough league and to win every game you’ve got to be pretty good.”
Nanaimo Clippers head coach Darren Naylor on facing Victoria tonight:
“They’re a fast, skilled team, a quick-transition team…We need to just play our game, hard work, get the puck down low and stop their transition game and don’t let them get rolling on us. They have the ability to come in waves at you so we need to slow them down.”
Naylor on the rivalry between the two teams:
“It’s not the friendliest environment when the two teams play…There’s no love lost between the two teams, that’s for sure.”
Naylor on taking over behind the bench midway through the season:
“It’s a different-type scenario. It hasn’t been bad, we’ve got a good bunch of guys here, the only downside is we’ve had some injuries. We’re down to only having one guy out now, so getting healthy and getting to know the players over the last little bit takes time, but the adjustments are there.”
Naylor on snapping an eight-game winless slide by beating Powell River in their last game:
“We were down so many guys. We were without our captain, our leading scorer, our top goalie and another top forward, so we weren’t getting the results. We were working hard, we just didn’t have the right guys who are game-breakers for us in the lineup. It started in the Surrey game actually [on Jan. 21], we lost 1-0, but we kind of turned the corner then and now we’ve got healthy guys back, so it’s a big, noticeable change.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.