The 2021-22 season officially ended for the Victoria Grizzlies Friday night as they fell 5-3 in Game 5 of the opening round of the playoffs against the Langley Rivermen.
Going in, the Grizzlies trailed the Rivermen 3-1 in the best of seven series, and for the first two periods it looked like it would be anyone’s game.
The opening frame had a clean score sheet for the first 11 minutes of play before the two teams were hit with coincidental roughing minors.
With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Langley’s Riley Wallack earned the first goal of the game, slipping one past Victoria goaltender Cole Schwebius.
Isack Bandu scored the equalizer for the Grizzlies with two minutes remaining. Victoria out-shot Langley in the first 16 to 10.
The second period was filled with goals as the two teams traded entries on the score sheet.
Rivermen’s Max Bulawka opened the period with a goal at the 2:42 mark, returning his team to the lead, but Bandu made it a tie game once again with his second goal of the game four minutes of play later.
The Grizzlies took the lead for the first time in the game just before the halfway point with Kalen Szeto putting the puck past Rivermen netminder Ajeet Gundarah.
But that lead wouldn’t last long, with Langley’s Max Dukovac making it a tie game at the 14-minute mark. The frame would end with Victoria continuing to out-shoot Langley 15-11.
It would take just three minutes of play into the third for the Rivermen to score what would prove to be the game-winning goal, courtesy of Joseph Messina. Ten minutes later, Wallack would get the insurance goal and his second of the game.
While they may not have had luck getting pucks past Gundarah, Victoria continued to out-shoot Langley 11-9 in the third for a total of 42-30 shots in the game.
With the Grizzlies heading home for the summer, the Rivermen will prepare to take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the second round of the British Columbia Hockey League playoffs.
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