Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart - In a game that was perhaps a little too close for their own comfort level, the Saanich Braves needed an empty net goal from Ty Jones with 40 seconds remaining to secure a 3-1 win over the winless Kerry Park Islanders in VIJHL action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
It is often the case heading into a game like this that the stronger team takes the underdog a bit lightly, however this was not the case Friday, as the Braves came out and dominated the first period, outshooting the Islanders 23-5 and hitting two goal posts, but that was as close as they would get, as they could not get anything past the Islanders starter Jackson Jane.
The lack of scoring in such a dominating period seemed to frustrate the Braves and in the second period they became a bit unglued, taking a rash of penalties, including instigator and fighting majors to both Josh McGladery and Jordan Groenhyde close enough together that the Islanders at one point enjoyed an over 6 minute 5-on-3 power play.
Kerry Park's Jackson Jane stopped 25 shots in the first period alone Friday to keep the Braves off the board early (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich's Sam Johnston and Kerry Park's Alex Milligan get tangled up in one of a number of second period skirmishes Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
That odd man advantage allowed the Islanders to pepper 13 shots on Braves starter Bowman Rutledge, however he was up to the challenge, stopping them all and getting great help from his penalty killers to keep the Islanders off the board.
The big penalty kill would prove advantageous and with just under 5 seconds remaining in the period, on a power-play of their own, the Brave's Shawn McBride picked up a puck in his end and skated end-to-end and beat Jane with a dandy shot over the glove to put Saanich up 1-0 after two periods of play.
Brave's goaltender Bowman Rutledge, along with defenceman Liam Sproule, would help stem an over 6 minute 5-on-3 Islander advantage in the second period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves would then score just over a minute later, albeit at the 1:08 mark of the third period, when Ty Jones would corral a rebound in front of the net and lift it over Jane for the 2-0 lead.
The Braves continued to dominate the period and would outshoot the Islanders 16-5 in total, but it would be the Islanders who finally got on the board with a short-handed effort from Trevor Parkhouse with 6:27 remaining to cut the Braves lead in half and make things interesting.
Saanich's Shawn McBride (right) celebrates his second period goal with teammate Andrew White (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
That would be all the scoring for the Islanders though and with Jane on the bench for the extra attacker, Jones would get control of the puck in the neutral zone and fire it down the ice and in the open net for the insurance marker, securing the 3-1 win.
Braves Head Coach Brad Cook, who was ejected from the game in the second period for protesting the penalty calls to both McGladery and Groenhyde praised his penalty kill team for their efforts. "Our special teams were incredible and Bowman stepped up big time in that second period. They had, what, a 6 minute 5-on-3 and did not score? Hats off to my guys. They worked hard and paid the price. That was huge for us and I think shifted the momentum back in our favour a bit."
Saanich's Andrew White carries the puck out of his zone Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
As to the penalty calls and his ejection, Cook was still frustrated a bit after the game. "I am not sure how their guy, with his gloves off and throwing major punches at Jordan, doesn't even come out of that with a major penalty for fighting. I don't often say much on the negative side, but in that situation I felt I needed to step up for my team and say something to the referee about it, so I did."
The Braves now have a week off to rest up for the Westshore Wolves who come to Pearkes on Friday November 2nd for the annual Pink in the Rink game. All proceeds from that game will go to support the Island Breaststrokers in their fight against cancer. Puck drop is at 6:30 pm.
Game Notes: The Brave's Garrett Kemmler and Liam Sproule both left the game with upper body injuries and will be listed as day-to-day pending further assessment. Three stars were not announced but notable mentions go to McBride (Saanich) for his opening goal, Jones (Saanich) for a pair of goals, Jane (Kerry Park) for his 25 first period and 43 overall saves and Rutledge (Saanich) for his efforts in the win.
Saanich's Ty Jones would score a pair of goals Friday, including an empty netter to seal the 3-1 Braves win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)