1DX 1493

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

October 15, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – Cameron Kovesdi had a hat-trick and two assists and Ben Meek had a goal and two assists to lead the Saanich Braves to a 6-3 win over the Peninsula Panthers in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

Saanich’s Ben Meek (21) would have a goal and two assists for his first points as a Brave in the 6-3 win over Peninsula on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win drops the struggling Panthers to 0-13 to start the season and gives the Braves their second win of the year and second in their last three games, having defeated Oceanside last Wednesday.

It seemed like Saanich Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) Old Home week at Pearkes Arena on Wednesday, as no less than fourteen players in the lineup, eight for Saanich and six for Peninsula, played all or part of their minor hockey careers in the Braves minor hockey organization. In addition, three players on the Panthers and one on the Braves, recently played for their respective opposing teams, some as recently as the start of this season.

1DX 1373
Saanich’s Conner Allan (16), one of 14 former Saanich Minor Hockey Association alumni in the game, leads the rush out of the Braves end during first period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While parents of those players were still trying to figure out which side of Pearkes Arena they were going to sit on, two of those SMHA products, Evan Badry and Cam Mackay, would help the Braves get on the board just 1:45 into the game, as Cameron Kovesdi would tip Badry’s point shot past Panthers starter Jacob Krupp for his second of the year and the 1-0 lead.

1DX 1444
Saanich’s Cam Mackay would have a pair of assists in the Braves 6-3 win Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Another former SMHA product and former Panther Ben Meek would give Saanich a 2-0 lead with 7:45 remaining in the first, as he would pick up a loose puck behind the net, step out front and wrap one around Krupp for his first goal (and first point) as a Brave.

1DX 1416
Saanich’s Jordan Parmar (left) fights for the puck with former Brave Josh Poland (right) during second period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Just three minutes later, Kovesdi would pot his second of the game, with an assist from Meek, and the Braves jumped into a 3-0 lead. That would be the end of the night for Panthers goaltender Krupp and he would be replaced by backup Tyrus Sleightholme who would be solid the rest of the period, stopping four tough shots and taking the teams to the break with the Braves up 3-0.

1DX 1454
Saanich forward Jack Rachwalski gets set to take a shot during the second period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Whatever Peninsula Head Coach and team owner Pete Zubersky said to his team at the break seemed to work, as the Panthers came out flying in the second period, dominating play and scoring three goals within a just over five minute span to tie the game up 3-3.

Grayden Hohl, a SMHA product who APed with the Junior Braves last season, would get things going for the Panthers with a power play marker past Braves starter Brandon Ward at 9:45. Less than two minutes later at 11:11, the Panthers Reese Costain would score his first of the year to make it 3-2 and then at 13:59, the Panthers would complete the comeback when Trevor Owens would sneak one past Ward to make it 3-3.

1DX 1549
Saanich goaltender Brandon Ward (35) had to battle through traffic regularly Wednesday, en route to stopping 42 of the 45 shots he faced on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That goal seemed to wake up the sleepy Braves and just 15 seconds later, Kovesdi would complete his hat-trick as he banged a Meek rebound past Sleightholme to put the Braves back into the lead 4-3, a score that held until the second intermission, despite the Panthers outshooting the Braves 23-7 for the period and 35-16 to that point overall in the game.

1DX 1539
Saanich’s Cameron Kovesdi had a career night Wednesday, getting a hat-trick and adding two assists in the Braves 6-3 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the third, the Panthers once again came out strong, but solid goaltending from Ward kept them off the board during the frame and when Hunter Atchison scored his first of the season at 8:56 and then Dayne Ellison ripped home a breakaway shot at 17:40 to put the Braves up 6-3, the game was all but over and the Braves played out the clock to emerge with the 6-2 win.

1DX 1507
Saanich’s Hunter Atchison (14), here battling Peninsula’s Grayden Hohl (9), would score his first goal of the season Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Kovesdi with his 3 goals and 2 assists was an easy choice for the first star of the game. The Panthers outshot the Braves 45-22 for the game. Trevor Owens with a goal and 2 assists had a 3 point night for the Panthers. Evan Badry, Alex Schleuter and Cam Mackay had 2 assists each for the Braves. The Braves Quinn Miller and the Panthers Brett Sjerven were ejected in the second period for fighting.