BCHL: Bulldogs primed to put down Grizzlies

Trail native Craig Martin has helped the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to a surprising 3-1 series lead over the Victoria Grizzlies.

Trail native Craig Martin has helped the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to a surprising 3-1 series lead over the Island division’s top-seed, Victoria Grizzlies, in BCHL first-round playoff action on the weekend.

Martin netted the winning goal at 15:01 of the second period and goaltender Connor LaCouvee stopped 47 shots in the 3-1 win on Saturday.

Martin has three goals in the playoffs, including a pair of markers in the Bulldogs 6-3 win over Victoria on Wednesday. Another former Smoke Eater, Jake Kaupilla, has also had a good series with three assists. Alberni finished almost 30 points back of the Grizzlies in the regular season standings but have pushed the Grizz, led by the Fitzgerald triplets, to the brink of elimination with 6-3, 4-0, and 3-1 wins.

The Vernon Vipers have also jumped out to a 3-1 series lead over former Smoke Eater Braden Pears and his second-seed West Kelowna Warriors. After losing their opening match 4-1, the Vipers have reeled off three straight wins including a 4-1 victory on Saturday.

The Penticton Vees meanwhile dispatched the Merritt Centennials in four straight, with a close 4-3 victory on Saturday.

With a 3-2 victory over Nanaimo Saturday, Powell River takes a 3-1 stranglehold on the Island division playoff rival Clippers. In the Mainland division, Surrey evened their series with Langley after a 7-5 victory on Saturday, while Coquitlam has taken a 3-1 edge over Prince George with a 6-3 victory in Game 4.

Martin and the Bulldogs will try to eliminate Victoria in Game 5 on Monday, but scores were unavailable at press time.

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