Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
October 10, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – Corey Peterson’s goal with 3:18 remaining proved to be the difference as the Westshore Wolves escaped with a 3-1 win over the Saanich Braves in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The Braves Evan Horvath would score Saanich’s only goal of the game Friday on this second period breakaway (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Braves, fresh off Wednesday night’s 6-2 win over Oceanside, their first win in league or playoff action in over nine months, were determined to get a second in a row against a depleted Westshore Wolves team that was missing their top scorer in Kyle Richter (injury), veterans Kayle Ramsay (suspension) and Clay Carson and defenceman Tomba Huddleston.
Westshore’s Dylan Grant (centre) is squeezed off the puck by Saanich’s Jack Rachwalski (left) and Alex Schlueter (right)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That determination showed early, as the Braves dominated play over most of the first period, but could not find a way to beat Wolves starter Riley Welyk. The Wolves would rebound a bit in the latter half of the first period, thanks in part to a powerplay chance to end up outshooting the Braves 15-9, but solid goaltending from the Braves Brandon Ward kept the game scoreless into the first intermission.
Saanich’s Evan Badry carries the puck into the Wolves end in second period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Braves began the second period just as they did the first and struck gold early, as speedy forward Evan Horvath snuck in behind the Wolves defence, took a great stretch pass from Jack Rachwalski and broke in all alone, putting a shot top corner on Welyk to give the Braves a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the period.
Saanich’s Jack Rachwalski gets set to fire a shot during the second period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That score would hold until the 13:24 mark when the Wolves Nick Guiney would jump on a loose puck and fire it through Ward to tie things up 1-1.
A back-and-forth remainder of the period would follow, but neither team would score and the teams headed to the second break all tied at a goal each.
The third period was much like the second, a close checking, hard-hitting affair that began in a spirited fashion just over a minute in when the Braves Cam Mackay and the Wolves Tyler Smith engaged in fisticuffs right off a faceoff in the Braves end.
Saanich’s Cam Mackay (left) and the Wolves Tyler Smith (right) would engage in a third period fight on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Smith, earlier, in the second period, had slammed Brave’s defenceman Garrett Stankoven down hard on to the ice, knocking him out of the game with concussion like symptoms. While Smith earned a penalty for his actions, the Braves Mackay obviously felt that was not a severe enough consequence and after a brief discussion with Smith prior to the faceoff, the two went at it when the puck was dropped, with Mackay earning a slight decision when he threw Smith to the ice at the end of the tilt.
Saanich’s Hunter Atchison tries to drive around Wolves defender Jesse Nixon (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After the fight, it would be all Braves, as they would pepper 19 shots in the period at Welyk, but the Wolves goalie would hold strong and keep the Braves off the board. He also had the help of his goalposts on a couple of occassions. The Wolves meanwhile, would also have a few good chances, including a penalty shot chance by Peterson, but they could not capitalize, as Ward was also holding strong in the Saanich nets.
The Wolves would finally break the deadlock when Peterson was left all alone to the side of the Saanich net late in the game. He would take a pass, wait patiently for Ward to make a move and leave an opening, and then make no mistake, hitting the mesh to give the Wolves the 2-1 lead with 3:18 to go.
Westshore’s Connor Krupa (left) and Saanich’s Dayne Ellison (right) race for a loose puck in the third period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Braves would try their best to get an equalizer, including pulling Ward with 40 seconds to play, but the Wolves Brett Lervold would seal the win when he wristed home an empty net goal with 24 seconds remaining to make the score 3-1.
The Wolves win pushes their record to 9-3-1 and moves them into a tie with idle Victoria for first in the South. The Braves fall to 1-9-0-1, but they remain 3 points up on winless Peninsula (0-12), 6-2 losers to Nanaimo Friday, for 4th in the South.