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The Saanich Braves eliminated the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs in six games (4-2). Friday, the Braves ended the Islanders post-season with a convincing 4-0 win in Mill Bay.
For anyone who paid attention to the two teams during the 48-game regular season, it was a tale of two very disparate seasons. Kerry Park had a slower start out of the gate, then built momentum throughout the season – they looked poised to put up a good challenge for whoever they would face in the post-season – especially Saanich.
The Islanders started September quietly going 3-6.
The Braves started the season 10-0-1-1 and then played around .500-hockey for the remainder of the season.
“Yeah, we started so well, then we faltered a bit after 12 games and we really just couldn’t find a coordinated momentum after that, with the odd injury and perhaps a tough opponent at the wrong time,” said Coach Sam Waterfield, as the regular season was winding down. “But let’s just see how the post-season goes, we are playing a little better as of late.”
He must have seen some more coordinated play as the two teams looked even going into the playoffs yet Kerry Park it seemed appeared to have more momentum. The Islanders passed the Braves in the standings late during the regular season and ended with 84 points for second place in the South Division, while the Braves had 77; they seemed modestly good.
A bit of foreshadowing that the Braves’ barn-burning 10-0-1-1 start was a bit of a mirage happened on October 27 in Mill Bay, where the Islanders manhandled the Braves 8-3. The regular season series went 3-4 for the Islanders, even though Saanich had a 2-0 start versus their South Division rivals.
Expectations for this post-season suggested the playoffs would end just like the regular season did with Kerry park winning in six or seven games.
The Braves won the first two games in Kerry Park 6-3 and 3-1. The Islanders took Game 3 in Saanich 4-1, then the Braves won 4-1, Islanders 3-1 in Kerry Park on Tuesday. Friday, the Braves ended it at home 4-0. Although no game was a pure blowout in hockey parlance, a 6-3 opener suggests Saanich wasn’t going to roll over. A 4-0 final proved just that.
During Game 6, there was no scoring in the first period.
During the second period, there was just one goal produced. Jacob McQuillin scored what would end up being the game-winner at 14:52. Evan Abgrall earned the only assist on the play.
Whatever was said during the second intermission in the Braves dressing room or whatever tactics were shared, it worked, as they came out quick and won the period 3-0.
Jackson Estey scored at 1:52 from Kyle Mace. With a 2-0 lead in the third period, the Braves would make the Islanders play a game that could leave them suspectable to odd-man rushes; they needed to score.
Zach Guerra took care of business at 11:34 from Ryan Strange.
Playing desperate hockey, in a game that was getting away from them, the Islanders’ Logan Furkalo took a Slashing penalty at 13:53 – it was a nail in the hand of the undertaker poised to finish things off. On the ensuing powerplay Gavin Grewal did just that scoring from Dale McCabe and Anderson Violette. There was no coming back from that fourth goal.
Saanich went 1/3 on the powerplay, while they held the Islanders to 0/4.
In net, Rett Rook, who played well all season, was credited with the 27-save loss, while Anderson Violette earned the series-ending, 33-save shutout win and home star honours.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL playoffs:
The South Division’s basement-dwelling Peninsula Panthers have put a scare into the regular season league champion Campbell River Storm by winning the first two games of the series. They also won Game 5, 4-3 in Sidney. The Panthers continue to keep it close, as the Storm won 3-2 and 3-1 during the latest two games. They play Game 7, Sunday at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River. Odds favour the Storm, but hats off to the Panthers team regardless of Sunday’s outcome.
The Cougars are waiting for game 7 of the Storm and Panthers tomorrow night. If Peninsula wins they play Victoria. If Campbell River wins, the Cougars play Nanaimo. Who are you cheering for? pic.twitter.com/xoleFcn9Ry
— Victoria Cougars Junior Hockey (@CougarsJrHockey) March 9, 2019
The Victoria Cougars dispatched the Oceanside Generals in five games, winning the final two by scores of 3-2 and 4-1.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers took care of the Westshore Wolves in five games. The only win for Westshore was 5-2 at home at The Q Centre in Colwood.
Watch the playoff bracket here, for who will be playing who in the semi-finals: http://www.vijhl.com/leagues/bracketV2.cfm?clientid=3467&leagueid=16189