Ben Chessor
The Navigator

Photo by Ben Chessor

Despite suffering their second loss of the season, the Nanaimo Buccaneers have continued their dominating play to start the 2013-2014 Vancouver Island Jr Hockey League season. The team picked up their biggest win of the season on October 17 as they defeated the South Division leading Victoria Cougars 3-2 in front of 408 fans at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

On October 16, the Buccaneers suffered their second loss of the season, a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Westshore Wolfs in Westshore. All the scoring came in the second period. Westshore took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the period as Kyle Peterson beat Alex Mastrodonato. The Buccaneers tied the game at 13:13 as Nick White scored a shorthanded goal, the second of the season for the Buccaneers. But the Wolves took the lead for good just over three minutes later as Clay Carson beat Mastrodonato at 16:26 to give Westshore the lead and the victory. Matt Chester made 26 saves for Westshore in the win, and Mastrodonato picked up the loss in goal making 28 saves. Westshore outshot Nanaimo 30-27 on the night.

With that loss still fresh in their minds, the Buccaneers returned to the ice the next night to face the South Division Leading Victoria Cougars. The game was a battle between the two VIJHL division leaders, and it certainly lived up to the hype. The Cougars came out strong, dominating large stretches of the first period. Victoria got on the board at 7:39 in the first period as Cougar Captain Mark Walton took a pass from David Marshall in the slot and fired a shot past Ryan Waldhaus to give the Cougars the early 1-0 lead. Victoria outshot Nanaimo 12-4 in the first period, but couldn’t build on the early lead. The score remained 1-0 at the end of the first period.

The Buccaneers looked like a much hungrier team in the second period. They were rewarded early in the period as Nick White came in on a partial breakaway and deked the puck past Cougar net minder Connor Beauchamp to tie the game. Victoria regained the lead at 16:44 of the second as Graeme Zagrodney fired a shot from the blue line past a screened Waldhaus to give Victoria the 2-1 edge. The lead was shortly lived, however, as Garrett Dunlop found a loose puck in front of the Victoria net and fired the puck by Beauchamp to tie the game at 2-2 at 18:15. Nanaimo was the dominant team in the second period, outshooting Victoria 14-4 in the second period. The two teams were tied entering the third period. Nanaimo gained the lead early in the third period as Jordan Levesque fired a rebound past Beauchamp just 30 seconds into the period.

Nanaimo managed to hold on and win the game by a score of 3-2. Final shots in the game favoured Victoria 26-24. The regulation time loss was the first of the season for the Cougars who fell to 12-1-0-1. This was the first of four meetings between these two powerhouse teams this season; they won’t meet again until December 5 in Victoria.

The Buccaneers returned to the ice the following Thursday, October 24, against the Oceanside Generals at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Nanaimo took the 1-0 lead 11:30 into the game on a shorthanded goal by Lucas Franssen. The Buccaneers stretched the lead to 2-0 just under three minutes later as Noah Russi tapped in a loose puck in front of the Oceanside goal at 14:15 on the power play. Oceanside got on the board late in the period on a power play of their own as captain Travis Flug fired a low wrist shot past Waldhaus to cut the lead to 2-1. Lee Orpen gave the Buccaneers a 3-1 lead early in the second period, beating Oceanside starter Liam Giroux.

Cory Burnett cut the Buccaneer lead to 3-2 at 14:18 in the period. It looked like Oceanside was going to be able to get out of the second period only trailing by one, but with 27 seconds left in the second, Will McNamara beat Giroux on a rebound to extend Nanaimo lead to 4-2. The teams traded a pair of goals each in the third period as Nanaimo picked up the 6-4 win, outshooting the Generals 44-22 in the victory. The win marked the fourth time in four games Nanaimo has defeated Oceanside this season. With the loss the Generals fell to 2-14-0-1.

With 15 games played this season, the Buccaneers have a record of 13-2-0-0. The team’s 26 points in the season give them an eight point lead in the North Division over second place Campbell River Storm. Nanaimo’s upcoming home games are Thursday, October 31, against Comox Valley and Thursday, November 7, against Westshore. Puck drop for both games is 7:15pm.