Riley Bear of Tseshaht First Nation drops the ceremonial puck for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs vs. Surrey Eagles game on Saturday, March 5. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Riley Bear of Tseshaht First Nation drops the ceremonial puck for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs vs. Surrey Eagles game on Saturday, March 5. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs ride home win streak to top spot in Coastal Conference

Bulldogs played in front of a crowd of more than 1,500 for the first time since 2018

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs picked up a 3-0 win against the Surrey Eagles last Saturday, in front of more than 1,500 fans and a TSN camera crew.

The night started off with a performance by singers, drummers and dancers from Tseshaht First Nation, who welcomed the crowd to the game. TSN was also in the building on Saturday night to film a feature story on Bulldogs defenceman Emanuelson Charbonneau.

“Manu has a very special story of dedication and perseverance and we’re excited for Manu that TSN wants to share his story with our nation,” said David Michaud, Alberni Valley Bulldogs president. “Having TSN here also creates a tremendous opportunity for the Bulldogs program, and the community of Port Alberni, to showcase ourselves to a national audience.”

READ MORE: Two Alberni Valley Bulldogs listed as ‘Players to Watch’ by NHL Central Scouting

Charbonneau said that TSN approached him a couple months ago about filming a feature. The filming experience was a “fun” one, he said.

“They want to talk about what happened in my life and the challenges that I’ve faced,” he said. “I want to inspire kids and show kids that even if you have challenges in your life, you can still have success.”

The camera crew followed him to the high school and dinner at his billet home, before shooting some footage of the game on Saturday.

If the Bulldogs felt any added pressure in front of the audience, they didn’t show it. The team picked up a 3-0 win against Surrey and allowed a season-low 12 shots against, making goaltender Hobie Hedquist’s shutout his quietest of the season. Hedquist is the first goaltender to have five shutouts in a season since Brian Stewart earned five back in 2005-06.

The crowd of 1,530 was the largest crowd at a Bulldogs game since 2018.

Goals on Saturday came from Josh Zary, Zeke Nicholson and Matthew Maltais.

On Sunday, the Bulldogs picked up another victory on home ice with a 7-3 win against the Chilliwack Chiefs. With the weekend victories, the Bulldogs are at the top of the BCHL’s Coastal Conference and have clinched home ice advantage for the playoffs.

Next up, the Bulldogs will host the Langley Rivermen at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on March 12. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Their final home game of the season is on March 13 against the Nanaimo Clippers. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.

The TSN feature will be played on TSN NHL broadcasts, Sports Centre and on TSN’s digital social media and web platforms later this year. Charbonneau will be meeting with Darren Dreger of TSN for a sit-down interview after the Bulldogs season ends.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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