Cranbrook snaps three-game skid with win in Alberni Valley

📸: Dale Fletcher / Cranbrook Bucks

The Cranbrook Bucks finally kicked off their three-game Coastal Conference road swing in Alberni Valley on Saturday night, looking for their first win in four games.

It was just Cranbrook’s second all-time meeting with the Bulldogs, and the first at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in Port Alberni.

The Bulldogs took a 5-2 win at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Nov. 12 of last season in the only previous head-to-head matchup.

After having their Friday night game in Nanaimo postponed, the Bucks were playing their first game in a week’s time, and they showed some great energy in this one.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to get on the board, as a familiar face got the scoring started for Cranbrook.

Bucks leading-scorer Jack Silich took the feed from Kellan Hjartarson and hammered it home to give Cranbrook a 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the game.

The scoring-play in the building read Silich from Bauer Morrissey and Jaden Fodchuk, though the replay shows Cam Kungle playing the puck down low for Hjartarson who found Silich, following some nice work by Fodchuk deep in the zone.

Cranbrook held the one-goal lead for more than 40 minutes before the Bulldogs pulled even at 4:08 of the third period on goal by Will Elger, from Ethan Bono and Emanuelson Charbonneau.

The game stayed knotted at 1-1 for almost the remainder of the third, until NHL draft prospect Donovan Frias took the game over in the final minute.

Frias picked the puck up behind the net off some strong work by his brother Julian, drove hard to the front of the net and tucked it in far side to put the Bucks up 2-1 at 19:06 of the period.

Donovan’s fourth goal of the season, assisted by Julian on his second helper of the season, proved to be the game-winner with just 54 seconds left.

The Bucks outshot Alberni Valley 31-29 in the game and hung on for a 2-1 victory, snapping their three-game winless streak.

Bulldogs goaltender Campbell Arnold was named first star of the game after stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced on the night.

Nathan Airey stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced in the Cranbrook net to earn second star honours.

Silich was the game’s third star after his goal opened the scoring in the first minute of the contest.

The Bucks win improved their overall record on the season to 8-5-1, while improving to 5-3-1 on the road.

They also pulled even in the all-time head-to-head series with Alberni Valley at 1-1-0 following the victory.

Cranbrook is back in action on Sunday afternoon in Coquitlam taking on the Express for the first time ever.

The game boxscore can be viewed here courtesy of the BCHL website, while a game recap from the Bucks website can be found here.

The game highlights can be viewed below, courtesy of Alberni Valley’s YouTube channel.

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