Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
January 23, 2015, Saanich, BC (ISN) – After losing to the Westshore Wolves 6-0 on Wednesday and battling the Nanaimo Buccaneers to a 1-1 draw Thursday, the Saanich Braves salvaged their three game week with a big 3-2 win over the Kerry Park Islanders in VIJHL action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
Saanich’s Evan Horvath celebrates his first of two goals of the evening Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win was a big one for the Braves, as it not only erased the post All Star game hangover that saw the offence come up with just one goal in 130 minutes of hockey (that being from Nick Kean in Nanaimo), but it also added some distance between themselves and the Islanders in the standings in what was a true “four point” game in the South Division. With a win, the Islanders could have pulled within two points of the Braves for third. However, it is now the Braves who hold a six point lead over the Islanders for that spot.
Saanich goaltender Riley Mathieson tries to look past the screen of Saanich’s Evan Badry (7) and Kerry Park’s Taylor Armbrusster (20) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Braves never trailed Friday, holding leads of 1-0 and 2-0 at the respective intermissions before the Islanders Kyle Green tallied early in the third to make it 2-1. The Braves would up their lead to 3-1 midway through the third to make it 3-1, before Green scored again to make it 3-2. The Islanders pulled goaltender Leighton Williams late, but to no avail, as the Braves held on for the win.
Linesmen Blake Copeland and Braydon Greensik try to separate Kerry Park’s David Bittner (left) and Saanich’s Seamus Maguire in this second period scuffle (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Leading the way Friday for the Braves was forward Evan Horvath, who notched a pair of goals – his 12th and 13th of the season – including the game winner at 11:42 of the third, when he converted a beautiful cross-ice pass from Jack Rachwalski.
Saanich’s Evan Horvath, here shooting in the third period, would score twice to lead the Braves to a 3-2 win Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Horvath also scored the first goal of the game when he put the Braves up 1-0 at the 15:11 mark of the first, capitalizing on a penalty to the Islanders David Bittner for tripping. He also had an assist on the Braves second goal which was scored by Rachwalski on the powerplay just 55 seconds into the second period.
Saanich’s Jack Rachwalski would have a goal and an assist Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Nick Kean, playing his first game against Kerry Park since being acquired by the Braves from the Islanders at the trading deadline, had an assist against his former team. Also drawing assists for the Braves on their goals were Seamus Maguire, with two, and Hunter Atchison.
Saanich’s Nick Kean, playing for the first time against his former team, would have an assist for the Braves Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Riley Mathieson got the start for the Braves Friday and he stopped 20 of 22 shots to earn his fifth win in his last five starts. Mathieson also played Wednesday in the loss to Westshore, coming in to relieve Brandon Ward and stopped 10 of 13 over the final 35 minutes of that game.
Saanich’s Hunter Atchison would garner an assist against the Islanders Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Speaking of Ward, after his disastrous start against Westshore Wednesday, he rebounded nicely on Thursday against his former team, stopping 40 of 41 Buccaneer shots to salvage the single point for the Braves in the 1-1 tie. His efforts earned him first star honours for that game.
Saanich defenceman Evan Badry leads a second period rush Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
With just six games to go in the regular season, the 15-21-1-5 Braves now enjoy a week off before they have to face the Victoria Cougars at Pearkes Arena next Friday Jan. 30 in a 6:30 pm start. They then travel to Oceanside on Saturday, Jan. 31 for a match against the Generals.
Saanich’s Jack Rachwalski looks to make a pass during the third period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: The Islanders have been in a bit of a tailspin lately and the loss to the Braves was their 9th in a row. They are now just three points ahead of Peninsula in the South Division standings. Not dressed for the Braves Friday were Ben Meek (shoulder injury), Conner Allan (illness) and Wil Finlay (unknown).