Grizzlies bowled over by the Express

The Victoria Grizzlies looked to keep their hot streak going against the Coquitlam Express on Saturday.

The Grizz came out storming in the first period. Just 7 minutes in, Jake Veilleux drew first blood with his third of the season to put Victoria up 1-0. Connor Eddy drew the only assist on the play. Despite the early lead, it was inevitable that Coquitlam would push right back, and the Express did exactly that. At the 13:17 of the first, Express forward Connor Gregga responded with his 13th of the year. Will Margel and Wyatt Head both recorded helpers on the play.

Despite being out shot, the Grizzlies showed they can skate and compete with the best team in the league. It wasn’t until the second period when the Express really started to show why they’re the class of the BCHL.

Just 31 seconds into the middle frame, Danny Pearson buried his seventh of the season to give Coquitlam its first lead. 2019 Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Massimo Rizzo and defenseman Steven Bellini both got  assists on the play. At the 12:56 mark, the Express added to their lead as Drew Cooper scored his tenth of the season. Affiliate player Gabriel Parent scored again just 1:20 later to put the home team ahead by three goals. Cooper got credit for an assist on Parent’s goal and finished the night with a goal and two assists. The Express completed the second period with a dominant performance, out shooting the Grizzlies by a margin of 19-6.

Victoria came out strong in the final period. James Davenport notched his eighth goal of the season to bring the Grizz within two. The momentum didn’t last long for Victoria as Coquitlam defenseman Wyatt Head restored his team’s three-goal lead. Rizzo drew his 2nd assist of the night, bringing his season total to 17 goals and 22 assists in 37 games.

The Grizzlies refused to go away as Henri Schreifels netted his 22nd goal of the season to get his team within two. Cody Monds notched his 2nd assist of the night, bringing his totals this season to 21 goals and 33 assists in 51 games.

The game got heated in the last few minutes of play as both teams exchanged roughing minors after some extracurricular activity involving Grizz defenseman Chace Oliver and Rizzo. Coquitlam forward Joshua Wildauer capped off the scoring on the evening with his 19th of the year. The Grizzlies finished the game being out shot by the Express 43-23.

Although the four game winning streak for the Grizz was snapped, they still have a chance to bounce back on Sunday afternoon in Langley. The showdown between the Grizzlies and the Rivermen is scheduled for 2:30 pm at George Preston Arena.

Lineup Notes: The Grizzlies were without Marty Westhaver due to an injury. His status is still day-to-day. Victoria was also without forward Eddie Yan, who recently finished playing for Team China at the Division II B World Junior Championship.