Braves Stage Unlikely Comeback to Win Home Opener Against Westshore

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Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

September 6, 2013, Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves overcame a 5-0 deficit and used four third period goals to rally for an exciting 6-5 win over the Westshore Wolves in their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League home opener Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

The Braves would start newcomer Jordan Werezak in net and the Braves did not make his Saanich debut an easy one, as they would get into penalty trouble and surrender two first period power-play goals, along with two others, to trail 4-0 after a period of play. Scoring for Westshore were Jayme Jackson, Trevor Parkhouse, and former Brave Connor Krupa, who potted a pair.

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Saanich’s Jack Rachwalski batttle’s Westshore Captain Tyson Young for position in front of the net (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Penalty troubles continued to haunt the Braves early in the second, with a checking to the head major to rookie Scott Henderson just three minutes in and another check to the head penalty to Liam Sproule a few minutes later. On the latter, the Wolves would score again, this time with Brett Lervold doing the damage, and the Wolves held a seemingly insurmountable 5-0 lead against the young and inexperienced Braves, who feature no less than 11 VIJHL rookies in their line-up.

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Westshore’s Jayme Jackson here evading the check of Garrett Stankoven, would score the first goal for the Wolves on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With the Braves looking for their veterans to step things up, it would be sophomore Nick Guerra who would finally get the Braves on the board, banging home a power-play marker past Wolves starter Matt Chester at the 11:30 mark to make the score 5-1. Newly christened Captain Sam McMullen and newcomer Sasha Hahn – obtained from Comox in the off season – would draw the assist.

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Westshore’s Brett Lervold (left), who would finish with a goal and four assists, battles the Braves Quinn Miller for the puck during the first period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Just over two-minutes later, the Braves would strike on the power-play again, as rookie Evan Badry would score his first career VIJHL goal, to make it 5-2, with assists going to Evan Horvath and Garett Kemmler. That’s the way things would stay for the remainder of the period, as despite outshooting the Wolves 14-8, the Braves could not score again before the intermission.

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Saanich’s Quinn Miller looks for some skating room against the Wolves on Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

During the break, the Braves must have drank some magic elixir, as they came out flying, and when Hahn put a McMullen rebound past Chester just 56 seconds into the third period to make it 5-3, the mood in the building changed and fans could tell a turning point had been reached.

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Saanich’s Nick Guerra would have a solid start to the season with two goals and an assist in the win against Westshore (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Sure enough, just 36 seconds later, Kemmler would follow up another McMullen rebound off the rush and put it past a sprawling Chester to pull the Braves within one at 5-4. Guerra would then strike for his second goal of the evening, swooping in on a breakaway and completing the comeback with a pretty goal at the 2:55 mark, tying the score 5-5 and leaving the Wolves stunned.

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Braves newcomer Sasha Hahn would have a goal and two assists in his Saanich debut (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Wolves would recover though to play the next few minutes relatively evenly, but at the 10:26 mark, veteran defenseman Jordan Groenhyde would net the game winner, with assists to Hahn (his third point of the night) and yet again to McMullen (his fourth of the night).

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Westshore’s Connor Krupa (right) would have a pair of goals for the Wolves in a losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

After the shaky start, Werezak would get the win in net, finishing with 29 saves on 34 shots. Chester would take the loss, stopping 37 shots of the 43 he faced. The Braves would go 2 for 5 on the powerplay while the Wolves would convert 3 of 6 chances.

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Saanich’s Jordan Groenhyde (left) celebrates his game winning goal with teammate Tom Dakers (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For the Wolves, Lervold would have a huge night, with a goal and four assists, while teammate Spencer Preece added four assists as well in the losing effort.

The Braves are right back in action on Saturday night, as they travel over the Malahat to take on the Kerry Park Islanders. The Islanders lost to Peninsula on Friday 6-1.

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