The Saanich Braves started off the 2018-2019 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season with a 10-1-1 record and for a spell, they held the handle on first place in the South Division and the entire league. However, in junior hockey, roster spots are not settled in pre-season or even during the early part of the season and some of the other teams were not ready for the Braves.

Then the Braves let first place slip away and eventually second place, as the Victoria Cougars and Kerry Park Islanders gradually passed them by. During one stretch they went 3-8-1-2. The question now is have they rediscovered their mojo? They want second place back.

Friday, they defeated the Oceanside Generals 3-2 at Pearkes Arena. The win took overtime and 39 shots, but they got it done. The Islanders, however, are not going to give up easily. They took out the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 9-4 on Saturday. Granted Comox is a last-place team in the league and the Islanders gave up four goals – giving up four goals to the Cougars or Campbell River Storm would result in a loss.

Evan Easton scored four goals for the Islanders and picked up an assist, while Isaac Leik scored twice and earned three assists in that game. Easton is a 19-year-old Duncan native who is in his third year with the Islanders. He has already tripled his output from last year in 14 fewer games.

The Braves are 2-1 in their last three, losing to the Cougars by just one goal and defeating the Islanders in Mill Bay in a veritable four-pointer. They may not have another 10-1-1-1 run, but their play seems tobe settling.

Friday, they dug themselves into a hole giving up two first period goals to the Generals, both on the powerplay at 19:02 and 19:37. They got the two back during the second period with a Dayton Clarke goal at 2:59 and an unassisted powerplay marker by Jackson Estey at 13:04.

The third period was a chess match; stalemate.

At 1:53 of overtime, Zach Guerra ended the game. Will Wright and Jake Wilhelm assisting.

Also scoring in the game were Greyson Werne and Ryan Ignace.

Shots were 39-35 for the Braves.

Powerplays went 1/7 for the Braves and 2/5 for the Generals.

The teams renew acquaintances again Sunday at 2:30 in Parksville. At 3:30 pm, the Peninsula Panthers, who are better than their record appears to be  take on the Victoria Cougars at Archie Browning Arena.

Friday, Dec. 21, the Panthers visit the Braves. There should be some fireworks in that game.

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