Strong goaltending netted the Comox Valley Glacier Kings a pair of victories in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action this past week.
Playing a gruelling three games in four days, the Yetis lost 5-2 to Victoria Cougars on Jan. 24, shaded the Saanich Braves 2-1 Jan. 26 and knocked off the Oceanside Generals 4-2 on Jan. 27.
Thursday the Glacier Kings were in Victoria to play the league-leading Cougars.
Comox came out aggressively in the first period, which worked until their rough play was penalized giving Victoria’s power play an opportunity to regain momentum. The Cougs quickly capitalized on the Kings' penalty kill (which had been perfect the weekend before) to go up 2-0.
The lead was cut in half when newly appointed forward Rylan Ball drove wide and put a low shot behind Cougars' netminder (and Comox native) Michael Herringer. Sheldon Brett was penalized during the celebration, resulting in yet another power-play goal. The Yetis' strong 5-on-5 play continued as Ball scored his second of the game off a feed from John Gosbee.
The Glacier Kings started the second with continued committed defensive play as they
outworked and outshot their opponents. Despite that, the Capital City Cats converted another PP opportunity to lead 4-2 after two. The third proved much of the same strong 5-on-5 play with the period remaining scoreless for 19 minutes.
A one-sided parade to the penalty box with two and a half minutes left (initiated by an undisciplined Comox forward) put the Yetis down 5-on-3 for two of the final three minutes. The Icemen defended well, but Victoria added their final goal with less than a minute remaining, again on the power play.
The Cougs outshot the Yetis 43-28, with Michael Hails taking the loss.
The Glacier Kings hosted the skilled Saanich Braves on Saturday night in front of a
boisterous home crowd and put together one of their most complete games of the season.
The Yetis came out controlling the game physically, resulting in scoring opportunities and strong play from their talented back end. After a scoreless first period, the game opened up in the second. At the 6:21 mark, after a slashing penalty to former G-King Max Mois, the Icemen's power play clicked when Steven Garcia knocked in a loose puck from a scramble in the crease.
Despite the Generals having three times the man advantages than the home team and firing 19 shots during the middle frame, goaltender Bryce DiRocco’s extraordinary play maintained the Yetis’ one-goal lead going into the third.
A miscue on a back check led to Braves’ forward Seamus Maguire burying a wrist shot after being left alone in front of DiRocco. A storybook ending had the crowd on their feet as Andrew White, traded from Saanich earlier in the season, one-timed a beautiful Tyson Rennie feed past the Braves’ netminder with 43 seconds left in regulation to give the Glacier Kings the 2-1 win.
On Sunday, the Yetis were in Parksville for the first of a three-game series with North Island division adversaries Oceanside. Facing quick goaltender Kiefer Giroux, the Icemen controlled the game physically and fired as many shots as they could. Hails, the VIJHL Player of the Week, was equally sharp at the other end.
Late in the period, Rennie scored a a goal off a break-away feed from Garcia to put the Yetis in front. Oceanside equalized minutes later on the power play. The Yetis took the ice with determination to start the third and were rewarded with three straight goals.
Defenceman Calvin Hadley jumped into open space and one-timed a pass home from Brandon Halls. White converted a Wade Bartlett feed to give the Icemen a commanding 3-1 lead. Rennie finished off a partial breakaway by putting his second of the game top shelf. The Generals added a power-play tally for a 4-2 final.
Glacier Kings' head coach Bill Rotheisler was impressed with his team. “We played three strong games. The first game was a learning curve in discipline and the importance of playing selflessly. Overall, the compete factor, with all of our players, was effective. We are constantly building our team structure and our players are continuing to buy in and play the roles harder each game. This is a team that is fighting for each other right now,” Rotheisler added.
The Glacier Kings host the Generals this Friday night, with game time 7:30 p.m. at Comox Valley Sports Centre Arena #1.
– Comox Valley Glacier Kings