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Game Day: Capitals Host Grizzlies in Final Regular Season Meeting

After a 5-4 finish in overtime on Thursday night that saw the Grizzlies earn a comeback victory, the Capitals will look to take two points on their ice on Friday night.

John Sladic scored his second goal of the season to open the scoring, at 2:38 of the first period on Thursday night; for Sladic, it was first goal since Sep 23 vs. Merritt at the BCHL Showcase. Of course, he had only played six games in between that span due to injuries. That goal also marked the Caps’ first goal on the man-advantage since Dec 17.

The Grizzlies would tie the game at one at 11:44 of the first, with a powerplay strike of their own from Nick Guiney. The Caps would regain their lead before the end of the first, when Jared Domin buried his 20th of the season at 19:17 of the frame. The line of Sladic, Domin and Michael Montambault all had two points in the first period for the Capitals.

Cowichan would extend their lead to 3-1 early in the second, with a powerplay goal from Mitch Skapski, who scored his first goal as a member of the Capitals at 2:58. Victoria would strike back in the period with two straight goals – from Nathan Looysen at 4:41 and from Guiney, who scored his second of the night, at 8:38. Once again, however, the Capitals would regain their lead late in the period, as Ayden MacDonald deked around two Grizzlies defenders and then goaltender Matthew Galajda at 18:41 of the second.

But the Grizzlies would claw back in the third period, throwing 18 shots on goal in the frame and scoring to tie the game at 13:15, when Brett Stirling rifled a powerplay goal from the top of the left circle. Both teams would earn a point as the score was 4-4 after regulation, but it was the Grizzlies who would earn two when their leading scorer Cole Pickup scored at 3:10 of the first overtime, sending the 1,006 fans at The Q Centre home happy.

Lane Michasiw turned in a 47-save performance in goal and earned second-star honors in the loss; Michasiw also surpassed 2,500 saves for his BCHL career. Matthew Galajda made 23 saves in the win for Victoria, as the Grizzlies led 52-27 in shots on the night. Both teams scored a pair of powerplay goals, as the Caps went 2-6 on the man-advantage, the Grizzlies 2-7.

The win ended a streak of back-to-back losses for the Grizzlies, who have twice lost two straight but haven’t lost three straight games all season. The Caps earned a much needed point on Thursday night, but now will look to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Grizzlies once again tonight.

It’s the eighth and final meeting of the regular season when these team’s play at the Island Savings Centre; Victoria has twice won in regulation in Cowichan territory this season, and the team’s have tied once. The Capitals do enter play having won four of their past five home games; the only loss in that time came to the Grizzlies – a 3-1 setback on Dec 30.

Tonight begins a stretch of three of the next four games at home for the Capitals, and three of the next four on the road for the Grizzlies. Of the Capitals final 14 regular season games, nine will be played at home.

Puck drop at the Island Savings Centre is at 7:00 pm.

Need to Know: The Caps will be short three top defenders once again, as captain Chris Harpur (suspension), Ben Verrall and Nii Noi Tetteh (injuries) will be out of action tonight; Verrall is expected to return on Jan 27 at Alberni Valley, and Tetteh likely the same, while Harpur is eligible to return on Jan 28 vs. Wenatchee… Affiliate defensemen Connor Bissett (98) and Clayton Peace (97) will dress for Cowichan tonight; both play in the VIJHL – Bissett with the Kerry Park Islanders, Peace with the Nanaimo Buccaneers… The Grizzlies will be without their captain as well, as Cody van Lierop is hopeful to return next week for the team; van Lierop has missed nearly two months for Victoria…

Did You Know?: Ayden MacDonald tonight is playing in his 100th game as a Capital, while Jared Domin is playing in his 99th with the team… Cole Pickup scored his sixth game-winner of the year on Thursday, tying him with four others for the BCHL lead… Mitch Skapski‘s first goal as a Capital was also his sixth second-period-goal, more than any other current Caps player this season… Domin’s first period goal was his team-leading 11th on the road this year… Max Newton had his 13th multi-point game of the season, the most of all Caps players… After going 1-40 on the powerplay in their past 10 games, the Capitals broke out with two powerplay goals on Thursday night… The Caps most recent game also marked only their second loss all season when scoring four or more goals (15-1-1-0)… In the second game of a back-to-back this season, Cowichan is 3-3-1-1 to date… The Grizzlies on Thursday won their 19th game against Island Division opponents – the most wins by any BCHL team against their own division this season…

Game notes by Colton Davies of 89.7 Juice FM.