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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Nakusp, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves Midget Tier 4 hockey club dropped a 6-2 decision Tuesday to Ft. St. James at the BC Hockey Midget Tier 4 Provincials in Nakusp.

For the second time in as many years, the two finalists for the BC Hockey Midget Tier 4 Provincials will be decided on the last day of the tournament. Sadly however, those finalists will not include the Saanich Braves, as they were eliminated from contention after a lackluster 6-2 loss to the Ft. St. James Stars on Tuesday afternoon.

The Stars win puts them in a position to capture first overall, should they defeat the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday. Kelowna punched their ticket to the finals Tuesday night with a huge 5-2 victory over the host Nakusp Falcons, who are also still in contention.

Should the Stars defeat Kelowna on Wednesday, both teams will have 8 points and will then play each other again Wednesday night in the final, with the Stars taking first seed. Should the Stars lose to or tie Kelowna, the door would still be open for Nakusp, who would then need to win or tie (if the Stars lose), or win straight up (if the Stars tied). Nakusp defeated the Stars in the round robin and as such hold the tie-breaker if they are tied in the final standings.

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Saanich’s Greg Solomon moves the puck up ice in Tuesday’s action against Ft. St. James (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

For the Saanich Braves, it was looking very much like they would stay in the final day mix on Tuesday as they jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead over Ft. St. James on the strength of a power-play goal from Kyle Murai.

But then the Braves fell into the same problem that cost them a loss a day earlier to Kelowna – penalty trouble – and the Stars would capitalize, beating Saanich goaltender Jason Stewart on the power-play just 30 seconds into the second period.

Saanich would respond though, and with 13:04 remaining in the period, Ben Tomley broke in off the wing and fired a hard shot that bounced up and over the Stars goalie and trickled across the line, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

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Saanich’s Garet Little tees up a shot during second period action Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

Another Saanich penalty would prove costly, as the Stars would tie things up with 10:53 remaining in the period, just six seconds into their power-play opportunity.

That goal seemed to spark the Stars offence as they would score again with 9:25 remaining and add yet another power-play marker with 4:51 left to build a 4-2 lead.

The Braves though looked to get right back into things late in the period when Hayle Kincross fired a laser beam that went in the net, hit the top bar at the back of the net and bounced quickly back out. The referee, who was not in a good position to see the shot, ruled that it hit the post and waved it off, and the Braves headed to the break trailing by two.

In the third period, the Braves could just not muster the effort needed to overcome the tough Stars team and it was the Stars who dominated, eventually outshooting the Braves 51-18 and scoring two more third-period goals, another on the power-play, to salt away the 6-2 win.

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Saanich goaltender Jason Stewart was once again subject to over 50 shots in the Braves loss on Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

The Braves now will play Chetwynd Wednesday morning for shot at 4th place, which they can secure with a win or a tie. Chetwynd defeated Whitehorse 7-1 on Tuesday for their first win of the tournament and can move ahead of the Braves in the final standings with a win. Game time Wednesday is bright and early at 8:00 am.