Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart - Braedon Behan's goal at 8:43 of the third period turned out to be the winner as the Westshore Wolves defeated the Saanich Braves 4-3 Friday night in Game 3 of their VIJHL playoff series at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The Wolve's win was marred however by a serious injury to one of their top players, Chase Kaiser, who was levelled late in the game by a huge open-ice hit from Saanich's Josh McGladery. Following the hit, Kaiser lay motionless on the ice for a number of minutes, while being attended to by medical personnel from both teams.
While Kaiser did come to and rise to his feet, he was clearly shaken and made his way, with assistance, to the Wolves dressing room where he was later taken by ambulance to hospital with a suspected concussion and a reported broken wrist.
Referee Riley Friesen, who discussed the hit with his linesman, ruled it a clean hit and did not penalize McGladery, but did penalize the Wolves Joel Gordon for roughing after the whistle, which brought the ire of the Wolves players and coaching staff, who were outraged at the non-call. Gordon also then received an additional miscondct and a game misconduct for continuing to argue the call.
The injury and end-of-game tensions overshadowed a gritty performance by the Wolves who managed to survive a 1-0 first period deficit (being outshot 23-8) and then an early second period five-minute man advantage for Saanich, before getting the tying marker at 5:32 of the period, when Brett Lervold would notch his first of the evening.
The Braves, whose first goal came off the stick of Josh Gray, would jump back into the lead at the 11:08 mark of the second, when Sam Johnston would take a nice feed from McGladery and put one through the Wolves Matt Chester. That lead would be short-lived though, as the Wolves would tie the game 2-2 on the powerplay at the 13:50 mark on a goal from Kaiser.
In the third period, the Wolves would once again be dominated on the shot clock 17-7, but were able to do their damage early and hit the net first with Brett Lervold scoring his second of the night at the 4:00 mark and the Behan netting what turned out to be the game winner at the 8:43 mark.
After that, it was all Braves and they would manage to get one back at the 14:35 mark when Chad Roorda would jam home a rebound to make it 4-3.
Following the injury to Kaiser, with the goalie pulled and with three Wolves in the penalty box, the Braves would continue to pressure, but could not put one past goaltender Chester again and the Wolves would come away with the win.
Wolves head coach Rob Doyle was a bit subdued because of the injury to Kaiser, but was pleased with the win. "It was a good road win for us. We didn't get the start we wanted and our goalie kept us in it. I think when we killed that 5-minute major, that gave us some good momentum and we scored right after that. It was a good character win. Both teams are pretty evenly matched and it is going to be a heck of a series."
The three stars of the game were not announced, but ISN calls it as first star, Matt Chester (48 saves on 51 shots), second star Brett Lervold (2 goals, 1 assist), and third star to Josh Gray of Saanich (1 goal, 1 assist).
The series will resume on Sunday at 5:30 pm at Bear Mountain Arena.