Braves Go Down Fighting, Fall to Comox in OT

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Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 24, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves battled hard, but a goal from Comox’s Duncan Pernal at 2:44 of overtime gave the Glacier Kings a 3-2 win Monday evening in VIJHL playoff action at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

The win gave the Glacier Kings a sweep of the opening round VIJHL playoff series four games to none and broke the hearts of the Braves, who had played perhaps their best game in the past two months.

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Saanich’s Hunter Atchison carries the puck out of his end Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The game started well for Comox who had three good scoring chances early, but some solid saves by Saanich netminder Eric Palliser, starting in place of Jason Stewart who was home with the flu, kept the Glacier Kings off the board.

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Saanich emergency back-up goaltender Eric Palliser stood tall in the Braves nets, stopping 35 of 38 Comox shots in the losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Braves themselves would also have some good chances, hitting the post at the 4:00 mark, and then, for the third time in the four games of this series, including Saturday’s 5-1 Braves loss in Comox, would jump into a 1-0 lead in the game when James Sneddon would get one past Comox starter Blake Pearson for the 1-0 lead 11:56 in.

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Saanich’s Nyshan Basra looks for an opening against Comox Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Braves would continue to have their chances, outshooting the Glacier Kings 16-11 for the period, but Sneddon’s goal would be the only marker and the Braves took the 1-0 lead into the break.

In the second, the Braves would take an early penalty and Comox would waste no time in capitalizing when Jonas Horvath would tuck one past Palliser just 3:17 into the period. Assists went to Nick Tupper and Taylor Bowman.

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Saanich’s Scott Henderson (23) looks to avoid pressure from Comox’s Jordan Crisp (18) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Unlike previous games in the series where Comox would score goals in quick succession, the Braves buckled down this time, keeping things even and getting some big saves from Palliser, including one on a Comox breakaway, to keep the game even through most of the second.

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Liam Sproule would return to the Braves line-up Monday and earn a pair of assists (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With 3:22 to go in the period, it would be the Braves to strike next, when Sasha Hann would fly in off the wing a rip one past Pearson to give the Braves the 2-1 lead.

In the third, the Glacier Kings bench became upset early in the period when winger Wil Finlay was taken down hard by the Braves Liam Sproule and had to leave the game with what appeard to be a back or leg injury.

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Comox’s Duncan Pernal (11), here avoiding a stick check from Saanich’s James Sneddon (17), would score in OT to give the Glacier Kings a 3-2 win Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

There was no call on the play and that seemd to spur the Glacier KIngs a bit, as they carried the play for much of the period, but became frustrated time and time again by some big saves by Palliser that kept the Braves in the lead.

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Cam MacKay charges down the wing in Monday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Things would get even crazier later in the game. First, with just over 3 minutes to play, the Braves hit the post with what would have been a big insurance goal. Then the Glacier Kings came down the ice and thought they had roofed the tying goal with 3:03 to play. The ref waved it off and play continued for another 1:30 or so before a stoppage where the refs could confer with one another and ensure that the puck did not go in.

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Comox’s Jordan Kamprath avoids pressure from Saanich’s James Sneddon (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Glacier Kings would keep pressing however and following the ensuing faceoff in the Saanich end and with the Comox goalie pulled for the extra attacker, defenceman Derien Hamilton would pounce on a rebound in the goalmouth and jam it home with 1:30 remaining to tie the game 2-2 and send things into overtime.

In overtime, the Glacier Kings pressured hard in the Saanich end, creating a turnover that found its way on to the stick of Jordan Kamprath. He fired a shot at the Saanich net from the wing and Palliser made the save, but the Glacier Kings crashed the net (and Palliser) and the puck somehow found its way to Duncan Pernal who stuffed it home just 2:44 in to give the Glacier Kings the win and the sweep of the series.

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Saanich’s Mackenzie Valentine carries the puck through the neutral zone Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Glacier Kings will now move on to face the Peninsula Panthers, who also closed out their opening round series Monday night with a 7-3 win over the Westshore Wolves. That series will likely begin later this week or early next week and the beat up Glacier Kings will welcome the rest.

“We are a beat up team,” said Glacier Kings Head Coach Joey Ewing. “We had seven guys out of the line-up tonight, including three guys, Margo, Finlay and Moore who left the game tonight. We need the rest, so we are excited to head home and have a good rest and get ready for the next series against Peninsula.”

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Saanich’s Josh Poland works hard to get the puck out of the Saanich end under pressure from Comox’s Duncan Pernal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For the Braves, the loss closes out a season that the club can hopefully put quickly behind them. While the team played better recently, the loss marked their 17th in a row and their 38th of the season, with the Braves last win, just their 11th of the year, coming January 4th over Kerry Park. No doubt in the next few days, the Braves ownership and coaching staff, including Head Coach Brad Cook, will sit down to evaluate all the plusses and minuses of the season, conduct their end of season interviews with players and then begin the process of rebuilding the team for next year.

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While teammates Hunter Atchison (left) and Jordan Groenhyde (in net) look down in despair, Saanich goaltender Eric Palliser (right) stares in disbelief at the referees after he was bowled over and lost his helmet during the mad goalmouth scramble that led to the Glacier Kings winning OT goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Braves Development and Prospect Camps
Speaking of next season, the Junior Braves have announced the dates for their spring Development Camp (April 14-June 16) and for their 2014 Prospects Camp (June 20-22). The details and registration forms for both camps may found on the Braves web site at www.saanichbraves.com 

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