The script for the Junior A Victoria Grizzlies home opener was perfectly executed on Sept. 14 as the home team eked out a dramatic win over the Powell River Kings on a last-second goal. Recently acquired Leo Fitzgerald, one of the Fitzgerald triplets on the team, scored the tie-breaking goal with .6 seconds left to give the home fans a reason to a celebrate after the 3–2 opening-night win.
After opening the game with frenetic energy and a power-play goal less than two minutes in, the home team dominated the first period, looking nothing like last year’s conference-worst team. While this was the team’s first game at Bear Mountain Arena, the match was the third game of the season for the new-look Grizzlies as they split (1–0-0–1) last weekend in Chilliwack in the new BCHL Showcase. Five out of a possible six points is a great way for this team to start the year.
The second period saw the Grizzlies pushing to build on their lead, but a fluke own-goal gave Powell River the lift it needed, and after two periods the game was tied at 1. Early in the third, the Kings cashed in one of their two power-play chances in the game to gain a lead that seemed like it might hold up.
But a great offensive rush by defenseman Nolan DeJong with just under eight minutes left resulted in a great cross-ice pass to Myles Powell, who banged it in along the ice to raise the spirits of 1400-plus fans at the Bear. That goal seemed to give the home team a final boost of energy, and that led to penalty trouble for the slower-skating Kings in the last two minutes.
After getting nothing during a late 5–3 power play, it was during a 5–4 power play that a last-gasp point shot squeaked through the Powell River goaltender with just under a second on the clock. Pandemonium ensued as essentially the game was over with less than a second remaining.
So after a strong first act, and a rather dull second, it was a welcome ending twist that left many fans satisfied.
The next Grizzlies home game is against the Coquitlam Express on Sept. 29 at 7:15 p.m.