Saanich Braves full color logo

By Christian J. Stewart, with Photos From Glenn Ivens (ISN)

November 12, 2012, Saanich, BC – The Saanich Braves Midget AA hockey club gave it a gutsy effort, but came up on the short end of a 3-1 score against the powerful Cloverdale Colts on Monday afternoon at Victoria Racquet Club, settling for a second place finish at the 10th annual Greater Victoria Midget Classic Hockey Tournament.

The Braves began the tournament on Friday at Pearkes Arena against the Burnaby Bulldogs and after falling behind 3-1 after two periods, came alive with third period goals from Liam Kinshella, Austin Hache and Braeden Pearce (his second of the game) to grab a clutch come-from-behind 4-3 win and make a winner of Ty Sweeney who stopped 25 of 28 shots in the Saanich net.

Saanich’s Braeden Pearce in action here against Cowichan, would have two big goals in the Braves come from behind win Friday over Burnaby (Photo: Glenn Ivens / Island Sports News)

In an early match up at 7 AM on Saturday, the Braves had a re-match with the Seafair Islanders (who handed the Braves their only loss in the Seafair Icebreaker tournament in Richmond on the Thanksgiving weekend). Conner Allan would score a first period goal and goaltender Jason Stewart, who was making his return after missing 2 games due to a neck injury, would do the rest, stopping all 27 Seafair shots to get the 1-0 shut-out victory and earn game MVP honours for Saanich.

Saanich goaltender Jason Stewart, here making a save in the Braves 5-2 semi-final win over Cowichan, would get an earlier 1-0 shut-out win over Seafair (Photo: Glenn Ivens / Island Sports News)

The two Saanich wins, combined with losses by other teams in their pool, meant the Braves had clinched first heading into the final round robin game with the Port Moody Panthers on Saturday afternoon and the lack of motivation showed, as the Braves came out a little flat and found themselves trailing 2-0 after two periods.

Once again, the Braves turned things on in the third, and goals by Braeden Pearce and Tanner Murray pulled them even at 2-2 with just over 9 minutes to play. However the Braves would surrender a late goal with just over two minutes remaining to suffer the 3-2 loss.

Saanich’s Hayle Kincross moves the puck against Cowichan (Photo: Glenn Ivens / Island Sports News)

In the “A” flight semi-final on Sunday, the Braves would find themselves up against their Island rival Cowichan Valley Capitals and it would be the Capitals striking first on the power-play to jump into a 1-0 lead with 1:08 left in the first period.

In the second, the Braves would tie things up on an early goal from Conner Allan and would then get a go ahead power play goal from Austin Hache who would tip home an Adam Page point shot.

After a huge 2 man penalty kill, the Braves would take control of the game with two quick goals, one by Tanner Murray and the second by Scott Henderson to jump into a 4-1 lead.

Saanich’s Conner Allan would have two big goals for Saanich, including the lone marker in their 1-0 shut-out of Seafair (Photo: Glenn Ivens / Island Sports News)

The Capitals would get one back halfway through the third, but Saanich goaltender Jason Stewart, who stopped 27 of 29 shots in total, would hold the fort to move the Braves into the Championship game against Cloverdale.

In Monday’s final, the Cloverdale squad, who went undefeated through the tournament, would come out firing, outshooting the Braves 16-5 in the first and 18-9 in the second periods, but could only put one past Saanich netminder Ty Sweeney who stood tall between the pipes.

The “rope-a-dope” strategy appeared to be paying off for the Braves, as the Colts began to get frustrated and in the third, the Braves would pick up the pace and with just over 9 minutes remaining, appeared to have tied the game up, but the goal was waived off, as the referee ruled he had lost sight of it before it crossed the line.

The Braves Grayden Hohl would be the team’s leading scorer for the tournament with 2 goals and 3 assists, including the lone goal in the 3-1 loss to Cloverdale in the final (Photo: Glenn Ivens / Island Sports News)

The Colts, who sensed the Braves were distracted by the call, immediately went on the attack, and just second later, buried a second goal past Sweeney to go up 2-0 in what was clearly the turning point of the game.

The Colts would add a third goal before Saanich’s Grayden Hohl would snap home a nice breakaway goal to get Saanich on the board with 3 minutes to play. That would be all the scoring however, and the Colts would hold on for the win. Saanich’s Sweeney was heroic in net, stopping 46 of 49 shots in the loss, while Conner Allan was awarded the game MVP.

Tournament Notes:  Saanich goaltenders Ty Sweeney and Jason Stewart were rewarded for their fine play on the weekend with Sweeney being named to the tournament first all-star team (3.17 GAA, .914 save percentage), while Stewart, with his 2-0 record and one shut-out, led all goaltenders of the 12 teams in the tournament with a 1.09 goals against average and .964 save percentage.  Grayden Hohl was the leading scorer for the Braves with 2 goals and 3 assists.