By Janice Huckin
Nanaimo (ISN) – The Jr. Shamrocks got on the bus and headed north Wednesday to face the Nanaimo Timbermen at Frank Crane Arena. They improved their record to 4-1 with a 12-9 victory in a hard-fought battle between the two island rivals.
These two teams have an almost bitter rivalry, as is the case in other sports. Wednesday saw the first time in regular season play that Nanaimo product, Mike Berti (who did not play Jr. ‘A’ in the Hub City) got the call in goal for the Shamrocks while former Jr. Shamrock Cory Mayzes got the nod for the T’Men. This provided extra incentive for both.
The Rocks started the scoring early when Oliver Phillips got in front and scored on the first shot of the game just 24 seconds in. Chris Wardle put the team in green up by a pair at 6:39 following a successful penalty kill. Nanaimo got on the board at 9:04 when Marino Best barreled in and beat Berti. The 2-1 Victoria lead held up until the end of the period despite being outshot by a 14-8 margin, largely due to spending more time on the penalty kill as they took 5 of the 7 minor penalties in the period.
Nanaimo evened things out early in the middle frame, Mitch Parker scoring from a scrum in front of the net at the 1:34 mark. Victoria was quick to reply, Phillips collecting his second of the contest at 2:31, picking up a quick pass at the corner of the crease. The T’Men got a little momentum, scoring twice in about 90 seconds The first came from Brett Fleming at 4:02 on a shot that Berti got a piece of and the second, courtesy of Corey Shires at 5:35 on a breakaway. Goals came very quickly after that as Brody Eastwood picked up a power pay goal at 8:10 to get the Shamrocks even. Off the ensuing faceoff the visitors once again took the lead, this one off the stick of Braden Kmita at 8:20. That made the score 5-4 Victoria but not for long, as a Nanaimo power play goal at 9:25 from Shires tied things up once again. Back and forth – at 9:44 it was Eastwood picking up his second for the Rocks. About 2 minutes later, Mitch Parker scored unassisted for Nanaimo very late in the 30-second clock – pretty much right at the buzzer in fact. Eastwood collected his hat trick at the 12:26 mark of period 2, getting the shot just inside the post on Mayzes and restoring the one-goal lead. Things got a bit ugly after that – these two teams don’t like each other a lot once they get on the floor. At the 12:36 mark Nanaimo’s Paul Brebber ran Victoria goaltender Berti, injured seriously to be removed from the game and replaced by Cody Hagedorn. Brebber got a 5-minute major for charging for his trouble as well as a 2-minute minor for roughing. Another Nanaimo player as well as two Shamrocks players also took 2-minute penalties for the aftermath. Victoria should have come out of that situation with a 5-minute power play but unfortunately, took some penalties to nullify that. The Timbermen got even at the 13:18 mark but the visitors got on a roll after that, scoring the final two goals of the period and the first three in the final frame. At 15:04, intermediate call-up Jake Cullen scored with the teams playing 4-on-4. Team captain Jake Emms finished off the second period scoring at 18:49 to give the Shamrocks the 9-7 lead after 40 minutes. They had also picked up the pace in outshooting their opponents by a 20-15 margin in the middle frame.
Nanaimo got into penalty trouble early in the third period and the Shamrocks capitalized with two power play goals. At the 59-second mark Eastwood picked up his fourth of the game and at 2:18, Emms collected his second. Another intermediate call-up, Dane Sorensen, scored for the Rocks at 5:27 beating Mayzes with a bouncer and making it a 5-goal lead. Just 21 seconds later, however, Ryan Nicks drew the T’Men within 4 scoring on a breakaway. They managed to score once more, Stu Mills finding twine at 15:59 with an extra attacker on the floor and the goaltender on the bench but the Shamrocks closed the door the rest of the way and ran down the clock to get the win.
As noted, the victory gives the Shamrocks a record of 4-1 at the top of the league standings while Nanaimo falls to 0-5.
Leading the way for the Shamrocks was Brody Eastwood with 4 goals and 1 assist. Oliver Phillips and Jake Emms each picked up a pair of goals and 1 and 2 helpers respectively. Singles came from Dane Sorensen, Jake Cullen, Braden Kmita and Chris Wardle. Team scoring leader Adam Brown chipped in 4 assists.
For Nanaimo it was Corey Shires and Mitch Parker each scoring twice with 5 other players picking up singles.
Next game for the Shamrocks is at home Saturday, May 12. Game time is 5:00 pm at Bear Mountain Arena and the New Westminster Salmonbellies, with a record of 2 wins and a loss, will provide the opposition.