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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

The Saanich Braves rode three first period goals to an eventual 7-3 victory over the Campbell River Storm Wednesday evening to take a 3-2 lead in their VIJHL playoff series.

Saanich, BC (ISN) – After a disappointing 6-3 loss to the Campbell River Storm Tuesday evening, the Saanich Braves rebounded in a big way Wednesday, as they received three first period goals to jump start an eventual 7-3 win, giving them a 3-2 series lead in their VIJHL playoff series.

The opening five minutes of the game, played at Pearkes Arena in Saanich, would be fairly even, with both teams having early scoring chances. It would be the Braves though, that opened the scoring, as Nick Vanstone would bang home a Brandon Parmar point shot at the 5:10 mark to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

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Saanich defenceman Adam Wade drives in off the point for a scoring opportunity Wednesday.

They would add to this less than five minutes later, as Ty Jones would notch his first of two in the period to put the Braves up 2-0. Campbell River would push back immediately after that goal and if not for a huge save by Tanner McGaw on a 2-on-1, the Storm would have been on the board.

However it would be the Braves who would score next, as Jones potted his second of the period with 9:44 remaining to give Saanich the 3-0 lead, a lead that would carry to the break.

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Ty Jones would have two first-period goals to spark the Braves to an early 3-0 lead and an eventual 7-3 win Wednesday.

In the second period, both teams would trade power-play opportunities early, but then the Braves would capitalize on another Storm penalty with a power-play goal from Shawn McBride at the 4:38 mark to put the Braves up 4-0.

The Braves would then get a little undisciplined following that goal, and after Joel Wheeldon scored with 10:22 remaining to put the Storm on the board, Saanich’s McBride was issued a five-minute major penalty for tripping a Storm player and sending him into the boards.

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Saanich’s Matt Biagioni uses all his might to push Campbell River’s James Bryant off the puck during action Wednesday.

Campbell River had some chances on the power-play early, but some big saves by Saanich goaltender Tanner McGaw held the Storm off the board. The Braves also received some outstanding penalty killing from Sam McMullen who single handedly held Campbell river in their zone for an entire shift, allowing the Braves to kill off the major without incident.

The big penalty kill seemed to make the Braves relax a bit, something they should never do against this particular opponent, and the Storm would make them pay with a goal by Alex Benjestorf with 45 seconds remaining in the period. The Braves McGaw would make another big save right at the buzzer to send the Braves into the intermission with a 4-2 lead.

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After being yanked in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss, Saanich netminder Tanner McGaw rebounded well, stopping 28 of 31 shots to get the win Wednesday.

Braves Head Coach Brad Cook was not pleased with the second period let-down, “We got off our game plan a bit after we went up 4-0 and had that big penalty kill, so I challenged the boys a bit in the room during the break to buckle down the rest of the way.”

That challenge seemed to work, as the Braves would come out flying to start the third period and at the 3:34 mark, Sam McMullen would snipe home a shot past Storm starter Nick Babich, to give the Braves a 5-2 lead. The Storm would reply just over three minutes later however, with a power-play goal by Dane Feeney to stay close at 5-3.

The Storm would continue to battle and would pull their goalie with close to two minutes remaining, only to watch as Saanich’s Ty Jones would complete his hat-trick with an empty net goal with 1:05 remaining.

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Saanich’s James Kellington had a sharp eye Wednesday, notching four assists in the Braves 7-3 win over Campbell River.

Following the goal, the Storm game a bit unglued as Captain Kayden Trumbley was issued a match penalty and game misconduct by referee Jordy Davis for spearing a Brave player. This then drew the ire of Storm Head Coach Rob Voltera who was also ejected by Davis. To make matters worse for the Storm, Alex Benjestorf was also issued a ten-minute misconduct and sent to an early shower.

Shortly after play resumed, Campbell River would be assessed another minor penalty, resulting in a Saanich power-play goal by call-up Kevin Massy. The Campbell River frustration carried over again, as Dixon Wing was issued a misconduct for throwing water bottles onto the ice.

Although play finally settled down and the final 17 seconds were played without incident, the tensions did carry over off the ice surface, as a number of Campbell River fans were observed waiting near the referee’s room following the game, apparently wanting to accost referee Davis about the calls in the game.

After a brief argument with Brave’s management and the intervention of two other Saanich supporters, the Campbell River contingent was convinced that it would be better to discuss matters with the league commissioner in the morning, rather than cause an incident at the rink, and cooler heads ended up prevailing.

What should be an interesting Game 6 in this series goes Thursday night in Campbell River and if needed, Game 7 will be at Pearkes on Friday evening.