Written By Janice Huckin
June 6, 2013, Nanaimo, BC (ISN) – The Shamrocks were looking to rebound from their first loss Sunday when they travelled over the scenic Malahat to take on their island rivals, the Nanaimo Timbermen. It wasn’t easy but they pulled out a 9-8 victory at Frank Crane Arena in a tight battle of defenses and goaltenders.
Josh Phillips got his first start this season between the pipes for the Rocks while Zack Boychuk suited up for the home Timbermen. This game marked the return of former T’Men player Scott Ranger and his former teammates got on the board first with the teams playing 4-on-4, Jake Emms getting in close at 8:45. Victoria replied at 9:06, also with the teams playing 4 aside, Nolan Heavenor scoring an unassisted tally on a low shot. The Rocks took the lead at 10:47, Rhys Duch connecting on a hard shot from outside the dotted line. Cody Bremner capitalized on a power play opportunity to knot things at 2 at 13:33 and Ryan Keith gave Nanaimo the lead once again at 15:13 with a long, hard shot that may have deflected. Shots on goal were even at 14 apiece and there wasn’t much to choose between the two teams after 20 minutes.
Period 2 belonged to the Shamrocks offensively as Ranger picked up the first 2 goals of the frame, both on the power play. First he capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage on a hard, low shot at 3:58. He then beat Boychuk on an almost identical shot at the 5:14 mark. The Rocks opened up a 2-goal advantage at 10:12 when Jeff Shattler buried a shot with a delayed penalty about to be called on Nanaimo. When Victoria’s Dan MacRae took a 5-minute high-sticking major, the Timbermen had the chance to put things back right but they were unable to beat Phillips and the Shamrocks penalty kill did a good job to limit possession. The home team did get a power play goal later in the period, Keith picking up his second of the game, shooting from his wrong side and finding twine at 18:26. That was how the second period ended, with the Rocks holding a 5-4 lead and beginning to open up a gap in shots on goal with an edge of 21-13 in the period.
The game was probably much closer than most fans would have expected, especially considering the two teams’ records. Victoria re-gained the 2 goal edge at 1:46 when Cory Conway, another former Nanaimo player traded to the Shamrocks prior to the season, scored on a little flip shot that went high to the corner. Nanaimo struck back to narrow the gap to a single goal at 4:36, Cayle Ratcliff doing the damage when he took a pass from behind the net and scored from the dotted line. Once more the teams traded goals, Heavenor picking up his second for the Rocks at 7:01 off transition, faking high and shooting low only to have Keith collect his hat-trick marker for the T’Men 25 seconds later, firing a shot to the far side from the dotted line. The home team pulled even at 9:25, Cody Bremner powering to the front of the net to get the ball behind Phillips. This was shaping up to be a battle to the finish. Victoria pulled away at 11:49, Ranger getting his hat trick marker with a low shot from in close. They saw the lead slip away once again at 14:41 when Graham Palmer had a bad-angle shot go into the net off goaltender Phillips, the game was tied 8-8. It wasn’t until 18:59 that the Rocks put the game away, Ranger with his fourth from the dotted line. Nanaimo pulled the goaltender in the final minute but was unable to get anything to go in.
This was a highly entertaining game, well played defensively by both sides and with great goaltending at both ends. The final shots on goal registered 52-40 in Victoria’s favour. Leading the way offensively for the victorious Shamrocks was Scott Ranger with 4 goals and 1 assist Rhys Duch chipped in a goal and 3 assists for a 4-point game and Nolan Heavenor had a pair of goals. Jeff Shattler and Cory Conway had the other Victoria goals.
Nanaimo did a very good job of keeping the Shamrocks arsenal in check and they were led offensively by a couple of Victoria products as Cody Bremner had 2 goals and 4 assists and Cayle Ratcliff had 6 points on a goal and 5 helpers. Ryan Keith had the hat trick and 1 assist with other goals coming from Graham Palmer and former Jr. Shamrock captain Jake Emms.
The result leaves Victoria in first place in the WLA with a 5-1 record, 2 points ahead of Maple Ridge. The Shamrocks will face the Burnaby Lakers Friday on the mainland and that won’t be a pushover either as the Lakers held on for a 9-8 victory over the Langley Thunder Wednesday.