The BCHL playoffs officially kicked off Friday night for the Victoria Grizzlies, as they fell 3-2 in the series opener against the Langley Rivermen at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley.
While it would ultimately prove to be Langley’s game, it was Victoria that started the game on the advantage. Less than a minute into the game, Grizzlies star rookie Matthew Wood put his team on the scoreboard, slipping the puck past Rivermen netminder Ajeet Gundarah on the power play.
It would be the only goal of the frame, however, with a string of high-sticking, slashing and roughing penalties being the only addition to the score sheet for either team. The Rivermen managed 14 shots on goal to the Grizzlies’ 13 in the first.
The second period was Langley’s from the off, with Max Bulawka getting his team on the score sheet for the first time in the game at the 1:34 mark, putting the puck past Victoria goaltender Cole Schwebius. Max Dukovac gave the Rivermen a one-goal-lead just six minutes later.
Langley out-shot Victoria 10 to five in the second.
The third proved to be a more even fight with Grizzlies’ Andrew Amousse capitalizing on a power play, making it a tied game after 14 minutes of scoreless third-period play.
After the two teams traded penalties, Joseph Messina scored the game-winning goal for the Rivermen with less than a minute left in the game. Langley continued to out-shoot Victoria 11 to nine in the third, with the shots on goal for the game totalling 35-27 for Langley.
Despite pulling their goalie moments later, the Grizzlies were unable to force overtime.
Victoria won’t have to wait long to get a chance to tie the series with game two scheduled for Saturday night in Langley.
Games three, four and six are booked for the Grizzlies’ home ice at The Q Centre in Colwood.
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