Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

October 23, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Saanich Brave Captain Sam McMullen scored at the 45 second mark of the second overtime period to give the Saanich Braves a 3-2 comeback win over the Westshore Wolves in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at Bear Mountain Arena in Victoria.

The letter “C” on a hockey player’s chest, as we all know, stands for “Captain.” It is bestowed on a player at the start of the season who the other players and the coaches feel will be the team leader, both on and off the ice.

The letter “C” in this instance also stands for a number of other things, for it is the Captain of a hockey team who is expected to play CONSISTENTLY night in and night out, be COURAGEOUS in every situation, show no fear and be willing to battle his opponents every shift, be a person of good CHARACTER, and be a person who can CARRY a team on his back when the going gets tough.

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Saanich’s Scott Henderson would fail to score on this first period chance, thanks in part to an uncalled hook by Westshore defender Wyatt Oickle (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

In the case of the Saanich Braves Sam McMullen, Head Coach Brad Cook and his staff certainly made the right call this season and it paid off on Wednesday night against the Westshore Wolves.

Winless in their past four games including a terrible 7-1 loss to the Wolves last Friday, and having played a miserable first period on Wednesday where they were outshot 12-3 and trailed 2-0 thanks to Westshore goals from Thomas Strocel and Kyle Peterson, the Braves needed something, or someone, to step up and provide some kind of spark.

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Saanich Captain Sam McMullen would factor in all three Saanich goals Wednesday, includung scoring the OT winner to give the Braves the win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Well cue McMullen, one of Saanich’s most consistent performers all season, who said “enough is enough” and courageously carried his team to victory, scoring the Braves first goal 32 seconds into the second period, assisting on the tying goal at 1:56 of the third and scoring the winner in double overtime to give the Braves a much needed character win, just their sixth in fifteen starts thus far this season and their first since a win over Comox on October 5th.

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Saanich’s Evan Horvath (left) and Westshore’s Hobin Zinck exchange pleasantries during the second period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

McMullen had a little bit of help with his heroics, as linemate Nick Guerra, also one of Saanich’s most consistent performers this season, assisted on two of Saanich’s goals, including the game winner, while defenceman Trevor Parkhouse had perhaps his best game since joining the Braves, scoring once and also adding another assist on the game winner by McMullen.

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Saanich’s Nick Guerra would have a pair of assists against the Wolves to stay on top of the Braves scoring leaderboard with 20 points (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

It secondary scoring by the likes of Parkhouse and others that the Braves will need to see more of if they wish to build on this win and get things back on track this season (they now sit fourth in the South Division one point ahead of Kerry Park). While Guerra (with 20) and McMullen (with 19) sit one-two respectively in team scoring, things fall off rather rapidly after that, as the injured Garett Kemmler sits third in team scoring with 13 points, while the fourth place Hunter Atchison has just 7 points and the remaining 18 rostered Brave players have each 6 points or less.

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Saanich defenceman Trevor Parkhouse would have a goal and an assist to contribute to the Braves 3-2 win over the Wolves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

What will also help the Braves is goaltending consistent with the performance that Braves starter Matt Rud gave on Wednesday, who after allowing those two first period goals, stopped the next 35 shots that he saw, including a couple of key game-saving stops in the overtime periods, to finish with perhaps his best showing of the season so far and notching his second win.

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Saanich’s Matt Rud would stop 35 of 37 shots to get the win for the Braves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

It should be mentioned however that Westshore starter Nick Dueck also had a solid outing, matching Rud save for save and stopping 35 of 38 shots in the losing cause. Both Dueck and Rud were named second and third stars of the game respectively for their efforts, behind first star McMullen.

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Westshore goaltender Nick Dueck would have a solid game, stopping 35 of 38 shots in the losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

As noted, the win vaults the Braves into fourth place in the South, one point up on Kerry Park and two back of third place Peninsula. The Wolves, with their single point for the OT loss, move to 19 points and sit second, four points up on the Panthers and six back of first place Victoria.

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New Uniforms on a New Player: Sporting the Brave’s new road jerseys, newcomer Dayne Ellison looks to pass during third period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Both teams are back in action Saturday as the Braves head to Parksville to take on the Oceanside Generals, while the Wolves visit Comox for a battle with the Glacier Kings.

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Saanich Captain Sam McMullen celebrates his game winning goal on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Game Notes: The Braves featured new road uniforms on Wednesday night, sporting a Chicago Blackhawk look, with black jerseys with the Indian head crest and crossed tomahawks over a yellow “S” on the shoulders. The Braves also had a new player on the ice, as forward Dayne Ellison was inserted into the lineup after being acquired this week from the Kerry Park Islanders.