If the Christmas break came at a good time for the Bulldogs, one might say the All-Star break came a horrible time. The Bulldogs built up a season high 6 game winning streak before the BCHL shut down on January 15th. The Bulldogs will head to Victoria looking to pick up where they left off against the Grizzlies at 7:00 pm at the Q Centre.
Coquitlam, Victoria, Chilliwack and the Bulldogs are separated by just 2 points in the Coastal Conference standings. There isn’t much room to give. The same could be said for tonight’s opponent. If the Bulldogs are the hottest team in the Coastal Conference, the Grizzlies aren’t far behind. Victoria is an impressive 6-2-2-0 over their past 10 games. The Grizzlies have been particularly tough to beat at the Q Centre with a home-ice record of 11-3-2-1. One of those set backs was all the way back on opening night for the 22-23 season when the Bulldogs pulled off a shootout win to kick off the season.
The only other meeting between the two clubs was in Port Alberni on December 2nd. Little did the Bulldogs know, that game would be the start of a miserable month for the team, highlighted by the Grizzlies shutting out the Bulldogs on Teddy Bear Toss Night. Oliver Auyeung-Ashton made 32 saves in the 5-0 win.
The new year has brought new hope for the Bulldogs line-up. The club appears to be realizing the success many envisioned for them before the season started. During the current 6 game win streak the Bulldogs have allowed just 8 goals against (1.33 per game) and have scored 24 times over that span (4.00 per game). Hobie Hedquist has ben simply sensational during the streak as he’s appeared in all 6 wins and has posted a .951 save percentage. Hedquist’s resurgence has played no small part in the Bulldogs ability to climb out of a hole that saw them 5 games under .500 when the club hit the Christmas break.
The Grizzlies offence is driven by a Olivier Picard, Owen Bohn, and Jack Gorton. After that, goals are tough to come by. The Grizzlies offence has just 93 goals to their credit, ranking them 15th in the BCHL. In contrast, their defence is what makes them dangerous as they’ve allowed a Coastal Conference leading 85 goals against. Only Penticton and Cranbrook have allowed fewer this season.
The Bulldogs and Grizzlies will meet Saturday night back in Port Alberni for the back half of this home-and-home set. It’s a big weekend for both clubs as they look to keep the momentum rolling and try to add a little separation between themselves and the Coastal Conference pack. For the Bulldogs, tomorrow’s home game is their last at the Dawg Pound until February 18th, a span of 21 days. You can get your tickets by CLICKING HERE
Tomorrow is a special night for the Bulldogs as they will present a cheque to Tseshaht First Nation for the proceeds of the special jersey auction.