Wolves Take Series Lead Over Braves in Double-OT Thriller

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 22, 2015, Colwood, BC (ISN) – Jordan Martin’s goal at 16:44 of the second overtime period gave the Westshore Wolves a dramatic come from behind 3-2 victory over the Saanich Braves in Game 3 of their VIJHL South Division playoff series played Sunday night at The Q Centre in Colwood.

This was a common scene Sunday as the Wolves did all they could to create as much traffic as possible in front of the Saanich net (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Martin’s goal gave the Wolves a 2-1 series lead and marked a disappointing end of the game for Saanich goaltender Brandon Ward who deserved a better fate, having faced a 50 shot barrage from the Wolves on the night and who, like he did in the Braves Game 1 win, did everything but literally stand on his head to keep the Braves in the game.

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Saanich goaltender Brandon Ward was fantastic Sunday, stopping 47 of 50 shots in the losing effort (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was also disappointing for the Braves, as once again, they seemed to be in control of their outcome, holding a 2-1 lead late in the third, only to see Dylan Grant score a powerplay goal with 2:22 remaining to tie the game 2-2 and send it to overtime. Last Friday, the Braves held a 3-1 lead before self-destructing and giving up five straight to lose Game 2 by a score of 7-3.

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Saanich Head Coach Brad Cook reacts to an unfavourable penalty call in the first period Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

With their Game 1 win and a couple of breaks here and there in Games 2 and 3, it is quite conceivable that the Braves could be holding a 3-0 lead in this series. Instead, they now trail the Wolves 2-1 and will have to recharge the tanks and get right back at it, as Game 4 in the series goes Monday night at 6:00 pm at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

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Westshore’s Corey Peterson looks to put a move on Saanich defender Evan Badry (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Braves got off to a good start on Sunday as forward Hunter Atchison notched his first of the playoffs on a perfectly placed shot past Wolves goaltender Chris Smith just 1:32 into the game. The Wolves then began to take over and were rewarded late in the period when Christian Brandt scored at 17:35 to tie the game 1-1.

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Saanich’s Hunter Atchison, here speeding away from Westshore’s Dylan Grant, would score the Braves first goal of the game just 1: 32 into the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a scoreless second period, thanks primarily to some huge saves by the Braves Ward, the Braves would re-take the lead on Jack Rachwalski’s second goal of the playoffs at 9:37 of the third. Rachwalski would walk in from the slot and rip a shot to the top corner for what was the prettiest goal of the night.

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Saanich’s Quinn Miller leads the charge through centre ice (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

As time wound down, the Braves looked to be headed to the win, but a hooking penalty to Cameron Kovesdi proved costly, as it gave the Wolves a late advantage and allowed Grant the chance to score the tying goal with a nice shot to the top corner over the stick of Ward.

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Westshore’s Nicholas Polomark makes a nifty pass off the boards while being checked by Saanich’s Kyle Schnettler (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the first overtime period (a 10-minute period) both teams would have chances but both Smith and Ward held strong and the teams headed to an intermission to await a full 20-minute second overtime. Again both teams would have chances, notably the Braves Cam Mackay who was left wide open in the slot early in the period and who dribbled to puck just inches wide of the post.

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The Braves almost won it early in Double OT when Cam Mackay’s shot trickled just wide of the post (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Just as the teams looked like they might settle in for a third overtime period, the Braves had trouble clearing their zone and Westshore defenceman Adam Page threw a shot towards the Braves net. After the initial save, a mad scrable ensued and the Wolves Martin would find the puck and bang it home past Ward to give the Wolves the exciting win.

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Saanich’s Nick Kean (right) and Westshore’s Quentin McShane (left) battle for position in front of Westshore goalie Chris Smith (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Seamus Maguire and Ben Meek were both out of the Braves line-up with upper body injuries. Call-up Dale McCabe saw his first VIJHL playoff action. Nick Kean, Jack Rachwalski and Jordan Parmar lead the Braves in playoff goal scoring with two goals each.

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