The Comox Valley Glacier Kings took on the best and the worst of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s South Division and emerged with a win and a loss.
The Yetis, who are tied for second in the North Division, lost 5-3 to South Division leaders Victoria Cougars on Jan. 11 and knocked off South cellar-dwellers Kerry Park Islanders on Jan. 12.
Friday night the Icemen hosted the Capital City Cats and held their own against B.C.’s best Junior B team. The Yetis opened the scoring in the first when Michael Scobie sped into the zone and beat goalie Michael Herringer (of the Comox Valley) top shelf.
Despite strong defensive play by the Kings, the Cougars popped a pair of goals past Michael Hails in the final 90 seconds of the period.
The second period showed more intensity from the Kings, with Andrew White tying the game in the first five minutes. Inspired by 16-year-old Calvin Hadley getting the upper hand in a spirited fight with 19-year-old Jake Daughtry, the Yetis showed their defensive dominance and did not allow the Cougars a shot on goal until the 13-minute mark.
But again the Cougars capitalized on a brief lapse, scoring two goals in 13 seconds to grab a 4-2 lead.
The Glacier Kings remained focused in the third, and a late surge resulted in a goal by Rylan Ball, but the visitors added an empty netter for the 5-3 win.
On Saturday the Glacier Kings stepped off the bus at Kerry Park lethargic and seemingly unfocused. A misplay off an Islanders’ dump in by netminder Bryce DiRocco gave the home team an early lead.
But a stunning bounce-back performance by DiRocco, combined with a power-play goal by Rylan Ball, pulled the Yetis even despite being outshot 16-10.
The Icemen got back on track in the second, controlling the vast majority of the play including multiple special-team scoring opportunities.
Power-play goals by Wade Bartlett and Jordan Crisp gave the Yetis a 3-2 lead at the end of the second, with the Kings outshooting Kerry Park 19-9. Comox Valley continued to improve with every period, matching their season-high goal output for a period at five.
Rookie Sheldon Brett opened the third with a shorthanded goal at the 1:55 mark. Michael Scobie and newcomer Patrick Croome added even-strength markers a few minutes later. The Glacier Kings’ fourth of the frame came again on the power play with John Gosbee getting a perfect pass from Eliason in the slot. White netted the Yetis’ sixth unanswered with five minutes left in the period. The Islanders added a late breakaway goal.
“It was nice to see contributions from different individuals up and down the line and the emergence of some of our first-year players such as Garret Mazur and John Gosbee,” said assistant coach Mark McNaughton. “This makes our coaching staff confident that we can take control in the next few months.”
Each of the goals were scored by different players, with four players earning three points including newcomers to the defensive line up Brandon Halls and Patrick Croome as well as Jordan Crisp and Tyson Rennie. Sasha Hahn and Andrew White each had two-point games and 14 players contributed points overall.
The Kings’ special teams were outstanding, earning four power-play goals and shutting down six of the Islanders’ seven power plays.
The Glacier Kings resume their pursuit of North Division leaders Nanaimo this week with home and away games against the Buccaneers. They are in Nanaimo on Thursday and host the Bucs on Saturday, with game time 7:30 p.m. at Comox Valley Sports Centre Arena #1.
– with a file from the Comox Valley Glacier Kings