Braves Offence Struggles to Find Net, Drop 5-2 Decision to Kerry Park

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

October 4, 2013, Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves went down to their fifth loss of the young VIJHL season, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Kerry Park Islanders Friday night at Pearkes Arena.

The game would begin fairly evenly as both teams would play to a scoreless draw through the first 17 minutes of the period until Saanich newcomer Evan Kite would open the scoring at 17:20 by snapping one over the shoulder of Kerry Park starter Leighton Williams.

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Saanich’s Nick Guerra and Kerry Park’s Alex Bilodeau race for a loose puck Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That lead would be short-lived however, as with just 14 seconds remaining in the period, former Brave Cody Short would jump on a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle and slap a knuckler of a shot behind Braves starter Matt Rud to knot things up at 1-1 heading into the break.

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Kerry Park’s Cody Short would haun his old teammates with a pair of goals in the Islanders 5-2 win over the Braves Friday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

After that it was all Islanders, as they would break out for three second period goals to put the game out of reach for the Braves. Braedan Cross would get things going in the period when took a nice feed in front of the net and scored just 1:59 in, while Short would add his second goal of the game at the 10:06 mark.

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Kerry Park’s Braedan Cross, with a goal and an assist, would be one of six Islander players to notch a 2-point evening against the Braves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Rounding out the scoring in the period was Francis Lapierre-Slicer, who would beat Rud with a short-handed marker at the 12:34 mark to give the Islanders a 4-1 lead, a score that would hold until the break.

In the third, the Islanders would extend their lead to 5-1 when Corey Peterson hit the scoresheet at the 11:57 mark. The Braves would get a lucky break late in the game when a Sam McMullen shot deflected in off a Kerry Park defender with just over two minutes to go, but that would be as close as the Braves would come and the Islanders prevailed 5-2.

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Kerry Park’s Kyle Green pushes Saanich’s Garret Stankhoven off the puck in Friday night’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

A frustrated Brad Cook, Head Coach of the Braves, called the effort tonight disorganized. “We looked disorganized tonight. And it’s frustrating because everything we looked disorganized at, we practiced all week in practice. Every piece. So that was very frustrating as a coach.”

Cook also admitted his team was struggling to find some offensive chemistry so far this season. “We’ve had an inconsistent lineup with lots of new faces, in part due to injury but mostly though to try and find some of that chemistry, to try and find guys who can make an impact in this league and until we find that our struggles are going to continue.”

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Saanich newcomer Nathan Luznar-Purdy (left) gets a face full of Islander Tyler Fraser’s left fist during a third period fight in the Islanders 5-2 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

“Tonight let’s face it, even with those new faces, we just were not good enough” added Cook. “They brought nothing to the table tonight. Is this team set in stone right now? Not a chance. So it’s going to be a bit of a revolving door around here for a while. The players are aware of that and there are some kids here that are getting some opportunities to play some minutes and prove themselves worthy of playing in this league as consistent player, but they need to step up and take advantage of that opportunity. I don’t feel that’s happened yet and we’re seeing the results. We can’t rely on four guys to carry us every night. It’s still early, but I’d like to see a little more urgency from the guys and guys not being comfortable. It’s the old saying, it’s one thing to get here, but it’s a whole other thing to stay here. We have a lot of work to do and hopefully we can have a good result in Comox tomorrow and then have some good practices to get ready for a tough week next week.”

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Saanich’s Evan Kite (left) notched his second goal of the season, while defenceman Garett Kemmler (right) logged a ton of ice in the absence of fellow d-Men Liam Sproule and Jordan Groenhyde  (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Following Saturday night’s tilt up in Comox, that tough week for the Braves includes games against the league leading and undefeated Victoria Cougars and the North Division leading Nanaimo Buccaneers, who have lost just a single game.

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Kerry Park’s Alex Milligan, who had a pair of assists, carries the puck through the neutral zone Friday against the Braves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Game Notes: Kerry Park’s Leighton Williams stopped 35 of 37 shots in the winning effort. Saanich’s Matt Rud stopped 37 of 42 in taking the loss. Six Kerry Park players had two-point evenings. Saanich was missing veteran defencemen Liam Sproule and Jordan Groenhyde, and forward Hunter Atchison, all out with injuries. The Kerry Park win puts them just one point behind the Braves for fourth place in the South Division.

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