When the going gets tough the tough get going.
But not the way the Comox Valley Glacier Kings are going about it.
The Yetis’ hopes for a first-place finish and first-round bye in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs are all but gone as they have lost their last three games.
Key players going to attend other sporting events and others going on the injured list have left the Yetis short staffed at a critical time of the season. The Icemen’s latest setback came Friday night on home ice when the North leaders lost 6-2 to the Saanich Braves, who sit third in the South.
The Glacier Kings now have 63 points with one regular season game remaining while the two teams chasing them for top spot overall, Peninsula Panthers and Victoria Cougars, both have 64 points and two games remaining.
First place overall is still mathematically possible, but Yeti fans might want to save their calculator batteries: the Icemen must win their last regular season game (this Friday in Saanich) and have both the Panthers and Cougars lose their two remaining games.
Friday at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, the Glacier Kings and Braves played it close through two periods. Defenceman Brian Rideout’s fourth goal of the year (from Kelin Hrycuik and Mitch Ball) on the power play gave the Glacier Kings the lead 6:49 in, but the Braves tallied two goals in the final minute of the period.
Corey Allen’s unassisted shorthanded goal (his 20th of the year) early in the second pulled the Icemen even.
The visitors had a 25-22 shots on goal advantage through the first 40 minutes.
But the Braves came out for the final frame with more jump, outshooting the Yetis 16-11 and outscoring them 4-0 to win going away.
While the Icemen had only 16 skaters and two goalies available for the game, the Braves came to town with just 13 skaters and one goalie. But they got goals from six different players to shock the former league leaders.
The Cougars took over top spot Saturday night by beating the Oceanside Generals 6-2 but are now tied with Peninsula for first overall after the Panthers knocked off Saanich 4-2 Sunday. The Capital City Cats close out their regular season against Campell River Storm and Kerry Park Islanders while Peninsula plays the Braves twice and then Oceanside in their final three regular season tilts.
ICE CHIPS Based on winning percentage as of Feb. 14, the Glacier Kings (31-10-0-1) were ninth of the 36 Jr. B teams in B.C. while the Cougars (31-9-0-2) and Panthers (32-10-0-0) were tied for seventh … VIJHL standings and top scorers in Scoreboard, page B8 … all the latest B.C. Jr. B buzz at www.vijhl.com …