Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN) - After a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Oceanside Generals on Thursday evening, the Nanaimo Buccaneers rebounded with a gritty 4-1 win over the previously unbeaten Saanich Braves in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The Buccaneers would go with Riley Medves in net, while the Braves would counter with Bowman Rutledge. Both goalies would see little action in the first period, as the Braves would outshoot the Buc's 9-6, and the teams would take a 0-0 tie into the intermission.
That would change in the second period however, especially for Medves, as the Braves would pepper 17 shots at the Nanaimo backstop and he would respond mightily by stopping all but one, a powerplay marker by Garrett Kemmler at the 8:43 mark of the period that gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Spurred by the goaltending of Medves, who made a wicked glove save later in the period, the Bucs would respond to tie the game when Robert Cahill would put one past Rutledge at the 11:06 mark of the period. Just three minutes later, Nanaimo would jump in front 2-1 when the puck would deflect high in the air, come down in front of Rutledge and eventually be poked home by the Buc's Garrett Dunlop in the ensuing scramble.
Saanich's Seamus Maguire drive toward the net during second period action Friday (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Nanaimo goaltender Riley Medves would have a keen eye on Saanich shooters all night, stopping 36 or 37 shots in the 4-1 win (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)
That is how the period would end and despite being outshot at that point in the game 26-12, the Bucs carried a lead into the third period.
In the third period, Nanaimo was eager to not have a repeat of the third period they had Thursday where they also had a 2-1 lead but then gave up 4 goals to lose 5-2. As such they came out hard against the Braves and were rewarded early when Corey Renwick snapped one past Rutledge at the 3:31 mark to put the Bucs up 3-1.
Less than 3 minutes later Jordan Levesque would increase that lead to 4-1 and the Bucs had the disorganized Braves on the ropes. As it turned out, despite outshooting the Braves 14-11 for the period, the Bucs would not score again - nor would the Braves - and after some nasty fisticuffs and skirmishes were completed in the latter half of the period, the Bucs skated off with the 4-1 win.
Garrett Dunlop (15) would have a goal and an assist for the Buccaneers on Friday (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Nanaimo Head Coach brad Knight was pleased with his team's work, "We understood how we lost last night, so we knew if we came out here and got back to playing good hockey we would find our winning ways again. I really like what I've seen from our team this year so far. We are staying disciplined and out of the penalty box, the boys are responding well, we're having some good victories and some interesting losses and most importantly the boys are having some fun."
Nanaimo's Robert Cahill would score the Bucs first goal and assist on their second in the 4-1 win over the Braves (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich's Josh McGladery streaks into the zone ahead of Nanaimo's Joe Speer during second period action Friday (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich Head Coach Brad Cook was pretty level headed about his team's loss, despite their poor performance, "I knew that eventually something like this was going to happen...call it overconfidence or whatever, but I'd rather have a game like this happen now, rather than at a critical point later in the season. Lesson learned, the boys now have a bit of a reality check and now we go back to work knowing that we have to show up and bring something to the table every game."
With the win, the Buccaneers move to 4-2 on the season and sit in first place in the North Division. The Braves fall to 3-1 and drop into second place in the South, behind the 6-0 Victoria Cougars.
Game Notes: Things turned a bit nasty late in the third when Buccaneer call-up Chad Bell interfered with Saanich goaltender Rutledge, sparking a melee that saw Tom Dakers and Seamus Maguire (Braves) and Thor Rosback (Bucs) ejected for fighting. Daker's dance partner Nick Marshall refused to fight and while a noble gesture, he paid for his restraint by taking a number of Daker's punches to the face...Saanich's regular starting goaltender Tanner McGaw was absent tonight due to school commitments and Saanich Midget AA goalie Jason Stewart was called-up to back up Rutledge...Three stars were not announced, but this author would give them as follows: 3rd: Robert Cahill, Nanaimo (goal, assist); 2nd: Garrett Dunlop, Nanaimo (goal, assist); 1st: Riley Medves, Nanaimo (36 saves).
Nanaimo's Nick Marshall (23) stayed out of the penalty box, but paid the price by taking a number of blows to the head, when he was involved in this third period fight with Saanich's Tom Dakers (Photo: ChristianJ. Stewart / Island Sports News)