Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN) - Goaltender Alec Dillon and his Westshore Wolves teammates did what no other team has done so far this year and shut-out the Saanich Braves 3-0 in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The Braves came into the game nursing some injuries, as defencemen Liam Sproule and Garrett Kemmler and forward Sam McMullen were all sidelined. This forced Shawn McBride to fill in on defence and Head Coach Brad Cook to juggle his top two lines, using three call-ups.
The Wolves seemed to sense that the Braves chemistry was off, pressuring them hard all game and beating the Braves to the puck on many occasions.
While this hard work did not pay off in the first period - the teams skated to a scoreless tie after 20 minutes - the Wolves would pick up the pace in the second, outshooting the Braves 17-8 and finally hitting pay dirt with 11:33 remaining, as Braedan Behan would pounce on a loose puck in front of the net and bang it past Brave starter Tanner McGaw to give the Wolves the 1-0 lead.
Saanich's Josh Gray gives Westshore's Josh Bloomenthal the slip in first period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich's Sam Johnston and the Wolve's Brett Lervold battle for a loose puck Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Wolves would add to their lead with 1:34 remaining as Max Mois, who was foiled by McGaw on a breakaway early in the period, would get some revenge by burying one past McGaw to put the Wolves up 2-0.
In the third period the Braves would begin to find their game and dominated play, but were continually foiled by a solid performance from Dillon, who always seemed to find a way to put his 16-year old, 6'4" frame in the way of all of the Braves 10 shots.
The Wolves meanwhile, could only muster four shots in the period, one of which however was an empty netter by Mois, his second of the game, with 29 seconds remaining, to seal the 3-0 win.
Westshore's Dylan Grant skates through the hook of Saanich's Cody Short Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Wolves goalie Alec Dillon would stop all 25 shots he faced and direct traffic as well, in the 3-0 win over Saanich Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Westshore Head Coach Vic Gervais was pleased with the win, "It was a good character win for us, and our goalie Alec set the stage early for us. He made some saves look easy and was definitely our star, but all 17 of our guys were going and all chipped in and played well."
"I think they certainly have more talent than we do," added Gervais, "but it just goes to show what can happen when one team works harder than another. In this league any team can win on any given night, and I was happy that it was our turn tonight."
Westshore's Chris McDonald skates away from the pressure of Saanich's Shawn McBride in third period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Goaltender Dillon, who stopped 25 shots for the save and his second shut-out of the season, was pleased with the result. "It feels good to come into this rink and get the shut-out against a team of their caliber," said Dillon. "It's a small rink so I try to use my size to stay out and challenge the shooters a bit more and I'm glad it all worked to my advantage tonight."
Braves Head Coach Brad Cook was not available for post-game comment, as for perhaps the first time in his tenure with the Braves, he took his team back on to the ice following the game for some additional practice. The game ended earlier than usual and with more than 45 minutes of ice available, Cook clearly felt that his team needed to use that additional ice to work on and correct some things that they did not do well in the game.
The Braves will try and correct their ways when they travel to Oceanside on Saturday evening, while the Wolves next action is on Wednesday when they host the Generals at Bear Mountain Arena.
Westshore's Regan Young carries the puck out of his end in the third period against Saanich Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)