The hockey is intensifying out there.
The Victoria Grizzlies defeated the Nanaimo Clippers 3-2 in Game 3 to take a two-games-to-one lead in the series.
Justin Michaelian’s goal from the side of the net on the first shift of the third period stood up as the game winner Tuesday at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena.
“A bit of an unfortunate goal to start the period, but then I thought we played hard and played well, created chances,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We’ve got to bury our chances when we get them … It was a game of inches, really.”
Sean Buchanan scored a first-period power-play goal to open the scoring and Lucas Finner, on a two-on-one rush in the second period, was Nanaimo’s other scorer. Cole Pickup and Jamie Rome scored power-play goals for the Grizzlies in the first period.
Matthew Galajda made 35 saves to earn the win in goal and Evan DeBrouwer suffered the loss, making 33 stops.
Cody Van Lierop, Grizzlies captain, said his team executed its game plan and switched up some things to handle the Clippers’ line-matching. He said his team tried to create more traffic in front of the opponent’s crease.
“A lot of it is just getting to the dirty areas. We were talking before the game that we need to start getting in tight, maybe taking a few slashes here and there but making sure we get in there, battling for the puck,” Van Lierop said.
The game ended with a hard hit and some hard feelings. Nanaimo’s bench was upset after top scorer Ben Solin was knocked out by a blow to the head with seven seconds left in regulation.
“We’ve got to worry about playing the game and win a hockey game at this stage. That’s really all we can do,” said Vandekamp. “There’s no time for overreaction to one play in the series.”
Van Lierop said the hockey is getting more heated as the series goes along. Players pick individual battles, he said, which add more layers to the team game.
“You’ve just got to expect it and you’ve got to battle through it and I think tonight we battled through it a little harder than them,” Van Lierop said.
GAME ON … Game 4 will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Game 5 is back at Victoria’s Q Centre on Friday at 7 p.m.