What a roller coaster ride that the Saanich Braves have been on so far this season. They started off their 2018-2019 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League year with a 10-1 record and owned first place in the South Division and the league. Then they lost three in a row, two of them badly, by scores of 7-3 and 8-4 sandwiching a closer 3-1 loss. In that span, they lost twice to the Westshore Wolves.
The Braves defensive line-up was depleted, but the Wolves had looked like they were going to have yet another sub-500 season – potentially a combination of taking them lightly and having a depleted back end made things suddenly very ugly.
Wednesday night at The Q Centre, Saanich showed up with a new defender in the line-up that they had acquired Tuesday night from the Peninsula Panthers in 18-year-old Brendan McTavish. They won by the score of 4-3. McTavish wasn’t the only reason why they won.
“Last night, we just tried to simplify our game again,” said head coach Sam Waterfield. “I thought we got caught over-thinking the game at times, but were able to battle out a win, which let the guys relax a bit after the game.”
Ryan Strange opened the scoring at 3:16 of the first period. The teams exchanged goals at 16:38 and 16:58 respectively when Matteo Giomo and Dale McCabe scored.
They again exchanged goals during the second and third periods with Giomo and McCabe each getting their second of the night, while Rieley Wiens scored for the Braves and picking up his second point of the night was Strange and Zach Guerra with his second assist at 14:27 of the second.
Kahil Fontana netted one at 8:48 of the third, but Braves goaltender Connor Cheyne battened down the hatches for the rest of the way. He ended up stopping 30 of 33 shots on the night.
“We will look to build on that going into the weekend,” added Waterfield.
Jordan Spandli took the loss in goal for the Wolves stopping 21 of 25 shots fired his way.
The Braves scored once on their two powerplay opportunities, while the Wolves were shut out on their two chances on the night.
The Braves next play again on Friday at home at Pearkes Arena against the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings and again Saturday in Cobble Hill against the Kerry Park Islanders.
Thursday, the Victoria Cougars visit the tough Nanaimo Buccaneers.