Trail native Craig Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs came within a dog’s hair of upsetting the Island division regular-season champion Victoria Grizzlies in Game 7 Wednesday in BCHL playoff action.
Grizzlies forward Shawn McBride scored at 7:18 of double overtime to clinch a dramatic 5-4 comeback victory in Game 7 to win the series after being down three-games-to-one to the upstart Bulldogs.
Alberni seized a 4-1 lead on goals from Kurt Gosselin, Martin, Darian Henry, and Qunton Wunder heading into the third period. But the Grizzlies scored three straight, including two with less than two minutes left, to force overtime. Bulldogs goalie Connor LaCouvee stopped 58 of the 63 shots he faced in the game and almost stole the game until McBride pounced on a loose puck in the slot and slapped it past LaCouvee in the second extra frame.
Myles and Gerry Fitzgerald assisted on all three of Victoria’s third-period goals as the Grizzlies came back from three down to send the game into overtime. Jaden Schmeisser had two in the period and Leo Fitzgerald had the other.
Former Trail Smoke Eaters Travis Stephens and Brandon Egli will be moving on with the Grizzlies as they now host the Powell River Kings in the Island division finals in Game 1 tonight, while Penticton hosted Vernon Thursday, and Langley played Coquitlam.
BCHL notes: After 21 seasons as head coach and general manager of the Chilliwack Chiefs, Harvey Smyl is leaving the team.
“This is a very big and tough decision that has been made only after long consideration and full consultation with my family,” Smyl said, in a press release issued late Wednesday. “Our youngest child graduates high school in June so it is a good time for us to re-evaluate our future.”
Smyl’s contract expires at the end of May,
He coached the Chiefs to three BCHL Championships, 1994-1995, 1999-2000 and 2001-2002.
Twice those teams advanced to the Royal Bank Cup which included a bronze medal in 2000. This season was the first in Smyl’s tenure that the Chiefs did not make the playoffs.