After 137 days off the Alberni valley Bulldogs finally dropped the puck on the 2020-2021 BCHL regular season, dropping a 6-5 SO decision to the Victoria Grizzlies.
The line-up was filled fresh new faces that weren’t part of the Bulldogs Island Cup exhibition schedule, in fact the Bulldogs are now icing one of the youngest teams in the BCHL with just two 20-year old skaters, both of which have no BCHL experience.
The start of the BCHL season is as much a lesson in perseverance as it is anything else. For 137 days the Bulldogs, and the rest of the BCHL clubs sat on the sidelines waiting once more for there to be meaningful action. For 137 days, they practiced, and did little more, all the while glued to social media waiting for positive news. The news finally came, and both teams put on a show.
The Bulldogs struck first, just :30 seconds into the game as Brandon Buhr got the party started. The Merrimack commit jumped on a loose puck and put it past Justin Easter. The Grizzlies didn’t take long to respond in spades. The Grizzlies would score 3 straight, two coming off the stick of the games 1st star Ellis Rickwood to take a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.
In the 2nd period the Bulldogs flipped the switch and scored 3 straight of their own thanks to goals from Lukas Jirousek (1), Adam Jeffrey (1), and Chase Klassen (1) to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 advantage through 2 periods.
The 3rd period was a see-saw affair with Rickwood notching his 3rd of the game to tie things at 4-4 on the power play just :53 seconds into the period. The Bulldogs regained the advantage when Brandon Buhr got his 2nd of the night at 10:49 to make it 5-4 Bulldogs. Sadly for the Bulldogs the Ellis Rickwood show continued as he scored his 4th of the night to pull the Grizzlies even at 5-5 with 6:18 to play in regulation.
OT would solve nothing, however Bulldogs goalie Luke Pearson made not one, but two point blank saves to keep the game alive and send it to a shootout.
Henri Schreifels would go on to score the only goal of the shootout to give the Grizzlies the 6-5 decision.
Final shots favoured the Grizzlies by a 51-37 count. The Grizzlies finished the night at 3 for 6 with the man-advantage, while the Bulldogs were 1 for 2.
The Bulldogs (0-0-0-1) host the Cowichan Valley Capitals tomorrow night at 7:00 pm in the Caps season debut. The Grizzlies have a tight turn around with a 1:00 pm start agains the Nanaimo Clippers. Both Games can be seen live on HockeyTV.