More than 140 kilometres away from their rink, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs called a different barn home this weekend. The Junior A squad hosted the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River for a regular season BCHL game Sunday afternoon, scoring five unanswered goals to win 5-2 in front of a packed house.
The Bulldogs have been unable to play any games at their usual arena in the Port Alberni Multiplex after an ammonia leak forced its closure on Nov. 3.
A number of their games since then have either been away, or rescheduled. Due to limitations in Trail’s schedule, the game against the Smoke Eaters had to either be cancelled, or played at a different arena, which is where Strathcona Gardens, home of the Brindy, came into play.
“With no ice in the (Port Alberni) Multiplex, we were forced to balance our wants of playing in front of our fans and being good BCHL partners,” said David Michaud, Alberni Valley Bulldogs president. “We’re extremely disappointed to be in this position.”
Strathcona Gardens rejigged the ice schedule for Sunday, cancelling the public skate and pond hockey on Arena #2 in favour of the Campbell River minor Hockey Association.
“We fully understand the inconvenience to this schedule change, however, all efforts and ability to support the hockey community on Vancouver Island is truly appreciated,” said Strathcona Gardens Facility Manger Koreen Gurak in a press release Friday.
The change in venue didn’t stop fans from attending the BCHL game in Campbell River. Season ticket-holder passes and game tickets for the game were honoured in Campbell River until Friday afternoon when the remaining seats were opened to the public.
The Bulldogs fell behind early when the Smoke Eaters’ Diarmad DiMurro scored at 6:25 and Tyler Ghirardosi added an insurance goal on the power play at 15:07.
But the Bulldogs, who had home team distinction at the Brindy, pulled within one in the second frame as rookie Moe Acee found the back of the net 6:39 into the period.
Acee’s family, visiting from New York erupted in cheers, waving their home-made “Who Let The Dogs Out” and “#7 Alpha Male” signs.
Among his relatives in Campbell River for the game was his sister, Emina Acee and cousin Leanne Cellura, who enjoyed the energy in the barn.
There were only four games on the Sunday schedule, but we saw an overtime thriller, two huge comebacks, and the Bulldogs winning big in Campbell River.— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) November 18, 2019
Check out the highlights in #BCHLin60 presented by @ChevroletCanada! pic.twitter.com/7JZ9kHJNcM
“It’s cool that people from this area came out to support the team,” said Cellura.
“It seems like everyone is really hyped up and loves the team and it’s super cool,” added Emina. “It is kind of sad that we didn’t get to go and see him at his home rink, but it’s still been an awesome experience seeing him out here and being with the family.”
They waved their homemade signs for much of the game.
“We wanted to go a little crazy for the game,” said Emina. “We’re super rowdy when it comes to hockey just generally as a family, so we’re like we should make signs.”
They made them the night before while spending time with Acee.
“He was excited about it,” said Emina. “He was like, ‘This is going to be hilarious. Our coach will love it, it’ll be so cool.’”
One of the signs was in support of the team, while the other two included some “inside family jokes” to make Acee laugh.
With the crowd’s continued support, the Bulldogs tied things up at 5:48 in the third frame with captain Mitch Deelstra getting the puck through traffic and past Trail goalie Logan Terness. The announcer hadn’t even gotten through announcing the goal when Deelstra added another, putting the Bulldogs ahead 3-2.
Our organization is very appreciative of our amazing @AVBulldogs fans who made the trip to Campbell River today, and to the people of @CityCampbellRiv who welcomed us and made life very easy on us! Thanks for being great neighbors! #bulldogshockey pic.twitter.com/BUBz8PgOlI— David P. Michaud (@dpmichaud) November 18, 2019
But they didn’t stop there. Stephen Castagna scored a powerplay goal at 15:23 and Isaac Pascoal scored another powerplay goal at 17:40 to give the Bulldogs the win.
“Our organization is very appreciative of our amazing @AVBulldogs fans who made the trip to Campbell River today, and to the people of @CityCampbellRiv who welcomed us and made life very easy on us! Thanks for being great neighbours! #bulldogshockey,” Michaud tweeted after the game.
The Bulldogs’ next home game on Tuesday against the Prince George Spruce Kings has also been rescheduled for Oceanside Place in Parksville.