Tuesday will be a must-do day for the Comox Valley Glacier Kings when they host the Nanaimo Buccaneers in game four of their best-of-seven Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinal playoff series.
After splitting the first two games in Nanaimo by identical 2-1 scores, the Yetis returned home Saturday night (March 9) and dropped a 6-5 decision. Face off Tuesday is 7:45 p.m. at Sports Centre Arena #1.
Following two goaltenders’ duels in The Harbour City, the offences broke loose in Courtenay in game three. Nanaimo led 3-2 after one period with the teams tied 3-3 after two. Nanaimo popped a pair of early third period goals before Michael Scobie’s unassisted marker at 11:44 cut the lead to 5-4.
But with Hails on the bench for the extra attacker, the Bucs iced the win with an empty netter. The never-say-die Icemen, perhaps looking to establish some momentum for game four, tallied with one tick left on the clock. First star Riel Gibson paced Nanaimo with two goals and one assist. Second star Garrett Halls had one goal and one assist for Comox Valley while third star Michael Pond scored once for the home team.
Brandon Halls added a goal and an assist for the Yetis, who outshot Nanaimo 32-27. Former G-King Cameron Large picked up the win in net while Michael Hails took the loss. Both teams went 1-for-6 on the power play, with the Icemen attracting their biggest home crowd of the season.
“We need a better effort from everybody on the team,” said Yetis’ head coach Bill Rotheisler. “It’s not time to start breaking apart what we’ve built and worked on to get us to this point. We have to regroup Monday and do the little things that made us the team we are.”
The Bucs defeated the Yetis 2-1 Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. “We just did what we had to do,” said Will McNamara, who scored both Bucs’ goal on the power play. “We took the body, really kept them to the outside of the ice and just put everything on net. We just did the simple things and it paid off.”
McNamara’s first goal came less than two minutes into the game with Comox Valley’s star forward Rylan Ball in the sin bin for boarding. Despite showing more intensity in the second, the G-Kings were unable to gain any momentum and were unlucky when a defenceman’s attempt to clear the puck bounced off McNamara’s shin and past Hails.
The Yetis bombarded Large with shot after shot in the third, but only Pond could slip the disc past him, that coming with 4:02 left to play. Nanaimo players blocked shots, dove to win puck battles and did whatever it took to preserve the lead.
“Although we outshot the Buccaneers by a 2-1 margin (37-19), it seemed as though the boys were not willing to go to the dirty areas to get the job done,” said Comox Valley assistant coach Mark McNaughton. “That being said, I think you have to give credit where credit is due and Cam large played an outstanding game for Nanaimo tonight.”
ICE CHIPS Game five goes Thursday, March 14 in Nanaimo at 7:15 p.m. If needed, game six is Saturday March 16 at 7:15 p.m. in Courtenay and game seven Sunday, March 17 in Nanaimo … the North Division winner will meet South Division and regular season champs Victoria Cougars for the VIJHL championship … the Cougars defeated Saanich Braves 5-2 Sunday to win the South semifinal 4-1 … the VIJHL, KIJHL and PIJHL champs join the host Glacier Kings for the Cyclone Taylor Cup in April … Abbotsford leads Aldergrove and Richmond is up on Delta in the PIJHL semis while nine teams are still alive in KIJHL post-season play …
– with files from the Nanaimo News Bulletin
and the Comox Valley Glacier Kings