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Game Day: Caps, Grizzlies Begin Home-and-Home in Victoria

Both the Capitals and Grizzlies will look to get back in the win column when they meet at The Q Centre on Thursday night. It’s the seventh of eight meetings between these Island clubs during the regular season – a season series that will conclude Friday night in Duncan, the back part of a home-and-home.

The Caps (20-20-2-2, 3rd Island) dropped all three games in their road trip last weekend, marking the first time all year they’ve come up winless in a three-in-three stretch. Their most recent outing, a 7-3 loss at West Kelowna, saw a close 40 minutes at the Royal Lepage Place, with the Warriors leading the Caps 3-2 after two periods. But the Warriors would attack in full force, scoring four straight goals in that final frame to go up 7-2, and eventually win 7-3. Rhett Kingston, Ayden MacDonald and Max Newton all had goals for Cowichan, and goalie Lane Michasiw suffered the loss despite a 45-save performance. Shots on Sunday afternoon were 52-22 in favor of the Warriors, and the special teams was a marginal factor in the home team’s success. West Kelowna would go 1-4 on the powerplay and 5-5 on the penalty kill, and had two shorthanded goals in the game.

The Grizzlies (27-10-6-4), meanwhile, are coming off three games in four days last week, all of which were played at home. They started with a 4-1 win over Nanaimo on Jan 12, but dropped back-to-back games in regulation against Powell River: by a 4-2 score on Jan 14, and a 5-3 final on Jan 15. In the Grizzlies most recent outing, the visiting Kings would lead 3-1 after two periods before Victoria scored two goals in the first half of the third period. However, Powell River would regain its lead just over a minute later and would add an empty-netter in the final seconds of the game. The line of Jamie Rome, Lucas Clark and Cameron Thompson all had multi-point games for the Grizzlies, who were outshot 37-31 on the afternoon. Goalie Tony Rehm, who was making his fourth straight start, made 32 saves in the Grizzlies crease.

The last time these team’s met was Dec 30 at the Island Savings Centre, a game the Grizzlies won 3-1. Victoria opened the scoring at 16:37 of the first, when Tyler Welsh scored his 18th of the year. Drayson Pears made it 2-0 at 5:57 of the second. The Caps would get one back at 4:44 of the third when Max Newton scored his 19th of the year, but that’s as close as the home team would come on the evening. Cameron Thompson added an empty-netter with 12 seconds remaining in the third. Lane Michasiw stopped 24 of 26 shots on the evening, while Matthew Galajda earned the win for the Grizzlies with 32 saves, as the Capitals outshot their opponent 33-27 on the night. That was the first meeting between the two teams since Oct 15.

The Caps (44 points) sit in the middle of the Island Division, behind Victoria (61 points) and Powell River (57), and ahead of Nanaimo (36) and Alberni Valley (35).

The Grizzlies and Capitals will conclude their regular season series tomorrow evening at the Island Savings Centre. Puck drop tonight at The Q Centre is at 7:00 pm.

Who’s Hot:

Capitals: Defenseman Marshall Skapski has points in three of four games; in 14 games with the Capitals (0-5-5), Skapski has more points than he had in 28 games this season with the Centennials (1-3-4)… Max Newton and Ayden MacDonald each have points in three of their past four, as each have three goals and three assists in that span…

Grizzlies: Since the Caps and Grizzlies last played, captain Cole Pickup has seven goals and nine points in his past seven games… Goalie Tony Rehm has made four straight starts heading into action tonight; Rehm has stopped 132 of 142 shots in that span (.930 sv%)… Nathan Looysen has points in nine of his past 10 games… T.J. Friedmann has points in four of his past five…

Need to Know: Capitals captain Chris Harpur tonight will serve the second of a four-game suspension… Defensemen Ben Verrall (lower body) and Nii Noi Tetteh (undisclosed) won’t be available as well tonight. The team has called up defenseman Boo Grist from Shawnigan Lake School in the CSSHL; Grist, a 17-year-old from Saanich, made his BCHL debut with the Caps on Jan 8…

Did You Know?: Caps defenseman Josh Owings played in his 100th career BCHL game last Sunday, all coming with the Capitals; Owings is one of three Capitals skaters who have played 100 games with the team… Meanwhile, forward Ayden MacDonald tonight skates in his 99th game as a Capital, and Jared Domin his 98th… The Grizzlies are 15-6-1-1 at home, while the Caps are 10-12-1-0 on the road… Grizzlies defenseman Jake Stevens is fifth in the BCHL in assists (37) and first in shorthanded assists (7)… Keyvan Mokhtari has four shorthanded goals for Victoria, tied for the most in the BCHL… Caps goalie Lane Michasiw is fourth in minutes among BCHL goalies (1,740), while Grizzlies netminder Matthew Galajda is fifth (1,669); Michasiw is 30 saves away from 2,500 in his BCHL career… Victoria’s Jamie Rome and Lucas Clark, both with 31 points, are tied for 10th in rookie scoring; Clark is fourth in penalty minutes among all BCHL players (56)…

Game notes provided by Colton Davies of 89.7 Juice FM.