Tristan Bukovec scored four goals to propel the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to their first win of the BC Hockey League regular season, a 4–1 victory over Nanaimo Clippers on Friday night.
Coupled with a 5–4 overtime loss in Victoria to the Grizzlies on Saturday, the Bulldogs took three of four points away in their first two games.
Bukovec scored a total of five goals in the pre-season, but wasn’t expecting to score four in one game.
“Honestly, I just kind of found the front of the net and my teammates got me the puck there,” he said.
Winning the season opener was key for the team, he added. “It means a lot, actually. We had a strong exhibition and everything and it’s good to follow that through to the regular season.”
Bulldogs’ head coach and general manager Kevin Willison said the team is off to a good start. “Goaltender Brody Claeys was really good, stopping 39 of 40 shots. Specialty teams played well, converting two of seven on the power play and didn’t allow a power play goal against,” Willison said.
“Tristan Bukovec had the red hot scoring stick, scoring all four goals.
“It was a different game in Victoria, where we didn’t play the way we wanted, however we did come out of there with a point.
“We can’t think just throwing the uniform on that good things will happen,” Willison said. “We need to work hard and smart every game. We left Brody (Claeys) by himself too many times in the defensive zone.”
ICE CHIPS…The Bulldogs have announced their team leadership group for the season: veteran Jordan Sandhu will wear the captain’s C, while Tristan Bukovec, Malik Kaila, Paul Savage and Quinn Syrydiuk will all wear the ‘A’ for alternate captain this year. Read more about it in the News’ special souvenir section coming out with our Thursday, Sept. 15 edition.
— With files from Greg Sakaki, Nanaimo News Bulletin