Three was the key to success for the Comox Valley Glacier Kings as they defeated the Nanaimo Buccaneers 6-3 Saturday night in Courtenay to win their best-of-seven Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinal playoff series 4-2.
Jack Kennelly collected three goals, the Yetis outscored the Bucs 3-0 (and outshot them 17-7) in a decisive second period, and the G-Kings’ power play went 3-for-7 (while their penalty killers held Nanaimo to 2-for-9).
Just for good measure, the victors swept three-star honours, with Kennelly (3g, 1a), goalie Michael Hails and Michael Scobie (three assists) going 1-2-3, respectively.
The Glacier Kings now meet the Victoria Cougars in the best-of-seven VIJHL championship. The Cougars, who won the South Division final 4-1 over the Saanich Braves, were the regular season champs with a 45-1-2 record (best in B.C. Jr. B).
The Capital City Cats will be well-rested going into the final, having wrapped up their semifinal series on March 10. Normally the No. 1 seed hosts games 1, 3, 5 and 7. However, due to a scheduling conflict with the Victoria Curling Classic, the Cougars will play the first game of the finals on the road.
Game 1 goes Saturday, March 23 in Courtenay at 7:30 p.m. Game 2 goes Tuesday, March 26 in Victoria at 6:30 p.m. and game Game 3 on Thursday, March 28 at Victoria at 7 p.m. Game 4 is Saturday, March 30 in Courtenay at 7:30 p.m.
If needed, Game 5 is March 31 in Victoria at 3 p.m., Game 6 Tuesday, April 2 in Courtenay time TBA and Game 7 Wednesday, April 3 in Victoria at 7 p.m.
The Glacier Kings and Buccaneers were tied 1-1 after one period on March 16 at the Comox Valley Sports Centre. The visitors opened the scoring on the power play courtesy of Thor Rosback. Kennelly pulled the Icemen even with a power-play goal at 18:35 (from Scobie and Brandon Halls).
The G-Kings jumped on the Bucs for two quick goals in the second: Garrett Halls (from Wade Bartlett and Brook Trainor) connected at 4:36 then Michael Pond (from Kennelly and Scobie) stretched the lead to 3-1 on the power play at 5:17. Kennelly’s second of the game (from Tyson Rennie and Patrick Croome) at 15:45 was part of a 17-shot barrage the Yetis threw at Nanaimo goalie Cameron Large in the middle stanza.
The teams traded goals in the third. Derian Hamilton cut the lead to 5-2 with a power-play tally at 2:12; Rylan Ball (from Garrett Halls and Scobie) got that one back four minutes later; Garrett Dunlop netted Nanaimo’s final goal at 9:23; and Kennelly’s third of the contest (from Andrew White and Brandon Halls) on the power play at 18:05 put the exclamation point on the game and the series.
ICE CHIPS Victoria won three of four regular season meetings with the Glacier Kings, who finished second (to Nanaimo) in the North Division with a 22-22-3 record … Comox Valley native Michael Herringer won his first WHL start on March 16, stopping 36 shots as the Victoria Royals topped the Everett Silvertips 4-3 in overtime … in his first season with the VIJHL Cougars, the 17-year-old Herringer was 16-0-1 with a 2.23 GAA and .899 save percentage …