Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 14, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – For the fourth time in their last five games, the Saanich Braves came out on the short end of a one-goal hockey game, this time dropping a 3-2 decision to the Oceanside Generals in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The loss spoiled a touching Valentine’s night ceremony that was held prior to the game for the Junior Brave’s Moms and billet Mom’s, as well as a special pre-game ceremony that honoured former Brave and current San Jose Shark, Matt Irwin. The Braves presented Irwin with a framed #44 jersey as well as a banner bearing that number that will be hung from the rafters at Pearkes Arena.
Saanich Braves owners Ed Geric (right) and Norm Kelly (left), plus players Liam Sproule (second from left) and Jordan Groenhyde (centre) present San Jose Shark defenceman Matt Irwin (second from right) with the #44 jersey he wore for the Braves when he played for them in 2004-2005 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Generals seemed unamused with the pre-game festivities and wasted no time in getting on the board, as just 46 seconds in, Daine Elphicke picked up a puck off a face off and surprised a screened Jason Stewart – the Saanich starter – with a low shot that Stewart did not see until it was in the net.
The Saanich Braves honoured their Moms on valentines Day night in a pre-game ceremony. Here is goaltender Jason Stewart and his Mom Carolyn (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves had a great opportunity to tie the game in the last minute of the period, when Jack Rachwalski, back in the line-up after missing a number of games with a lower-body injury, found himself on a breakaway, but was denied by Generals starter Liam Giroux.
San Jose Sharks defenceman Matt Irwin was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck for Oceanside’s Travis Flug (left) and Saanich’s Liam Sproule (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves would tie things up at the 2:05 mark of the second period however, when a shot from the Braves Nyshan Basra would find its way past Giroux and into the net, tying matters at 1-1.
Later in the frame, bad luck would strike the Braves, when a centering pass from Travis Flug would deflect in off the skate of Brodie Smith, who had positioned himself in front of the Braves net. There was a bit of discussion about whether the puck was kicked in the net, but it was a good goal and the Generals were up 2-1.
Sanich’s Jake Daughtry looks for an opening against Oceanside Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves would keep battling however at the 13:02 mark, Basra would score his second of the night, finishing off a nice passing play from Jordan Groenhyde and Josh Poland and making a nifty move to beat Giroux for the 2-2 goal.
With time winding down in the frame, Oceanside pressured the Braves into a defensive miscue and with 1:45 remaining, Wyatt Petryshen tipped a nice 2-on-1 pass from Chase Gaudreault off the post and in, giving the Generals the 3-2 lead and the eventual game-winning goal.
Saanich’s Sasha Hahn splits through the Oceanside defenders on the way out of his zone Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the third, Oceanside had a great opportunity to put the game away, as a pair of penalties to the Braves put the Generals on a 5-on-3 powerplay. The Braves would have the best chance to score however when Evan Horvath sped in on a partial break and then later, after Oceanside took themselves off the man-advantage with a penalty of their own, when Jake Daughtry sped in alone. Giroux would hold strong on both though, as well as through the rest of the period, and the game ended 3-2 in favour of the Generals.
Oceanside’s Travis Flug would have a pair of assists against the Braves Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The win was the second in a row for the Generals over the Braves, who have now dropped 12 in a row. Saanich will try to end that streak with their final game of the regular season on Saturday when they head to Kerry Park to face the Islanders.
The Braves still are not sure who their first round playoff opponent will be, as the Campbell River Storm defeated Victoria 5-3 Friday and moved to within one point of first place Comox, with both teams playing their final games Saturday night. The Storm will face the Generals while the Glacier Kings will face Nanaimo, with the results of those games deciding the North champion and the Braves first round opponent.
Saanich’s Nyshan Basra would score both of the Braves goals on Friday in their 3-2 loss to the Generals (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Game Notes: Rachwalski and Cam MacKay drew back into the Braves line-up Friday after missing a number of games with injury. James Sneddon (upper body) and Garrett Stankoven (undisclosed) were not dressed for the Braves. Marcus Daly of the South Island Royals and a draft pick of the Victoria Royals of the WHL, was dressed as Saanich’s emergency back-up goaltender. Congratulations are also extended to Braves broadcaster Jay Longpre who was named the VIJHL broadcaster of the year yesterday!