Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart - After dropping a tough 5-4 decision to Westshore on Wednesday, Sam McMullen notched the hat-trick, as the Saanich Braves rebounded with a dominating 8-3 win over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in VIJHL action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich. The game marked the final regular season home game for the Braves and also marked the first time since the fall that the Braves had all their regular players back in the line-up, as they have been beleagured with injuries throughout the season.
The game looked to be starting on the wrong foot for Saanich, as Comox's Garrett Halls would sneak a shot past Braves starter Tanner McGaw just 5:41 into the game on the Glacier Kings first shot of the game.
The Braves would soon rectify that situation, scoring a pair of powerplay goals and limiting the Glacier Kings to just two more shots in the period, to emerge with a 2-1 lead at the break.
Scoring for Saanich were Ty Jones, at 10:10, and Cole Golka, at 15:50. Defenceman Garrett Kemmler would assist on both.
Comox would tie things up early in the second with a powerplay goal of their own at 1:24 when Rylan Ball would convert from Garrett Halls and former Brave Andrew White.
After that it was all Braves, as they would score two quickies, the first at 3:10 when Shawn McBride would convert a pretty pass from Cole Golka, snapping it up over the shoulder of Comox starter Bryce DiRocco, and the second at 3:33 when some hard work by Nick Guerra behind the net allowed McMullen to bang home his first of the night.
The Braves would add two more before the period ended on goals from Josh Gray and McMullen's second (a short-handed breakaway) and after a response from Comox's Brandon Halls, the Braves would lead 6-3 after two.
Having amassed just 9 shots through the first two periods, the Glacier Kings finally were able to generate some offence, throwing 16 shots at McGaw in the third period, but fortunately for the Braves, McGaw was equal to the task, stopping all of them.
Meanwhile the Braves offence continued to click and McMullen buried his hat-trick goal at 9:38 and Kemmler would score on the powerplay at 12:11 to advance the score to 8-3, which is where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
The Braves now close out the regular season with a Valentine's Day match-up against league leading Victoria at Archie Browning arena. Puck drop is 7:00 PM.