It was the ‘rubber match’ between two island rivals as the Nanaimo Timbermen came into the Q Centre to face the Victoria Shamrocks with just 1 point separating them in the standings. At the end of the game it was the ‘Rocks grinding out an 11-10 overtime victory to take the island series 2 games to 1. Fans got more than their money’s worth for sure.
Starting goaltenders were Cody Hagedorn for the Shamrocks and Charles Claxton, a former Jr. Shamrock standout for the Timbermen. Nanaimo opened the scoring, Brandan Smith tallying at 6:06 off a rebound in front. Victoria replied at 9:50, Jesse King with a quick stick in front but less than 2 minutes later, the T’Men regained the lead on a shorthanded marker by Drew Belgrave on a breakaway gathering in an outlet pass from Claxton at 11:09. Again the Rocks drew even, Casey Jackson with a hard overhand shot at 13:49. Before the period ended, the visitors once again took the lead, Baden Boyenko giving them a 3-2 lead on a power play goal at 16:36. That was how the period ended with Nanaimo holding the 1-goal lead despite being outshot 17-11.
The middle period again saw Nanaimo open the scoring, Keenan Koswin with another power play goal at 3:43 in close. At 5:25 Tyson Gibson got the home team within a goal, finishing off some nice passes to tally shorthanded. That started a 5-goal run for the Shamrocks. Gibson got his second unassisted at 8:32, walking in unmolested. Jackson then picked up his second of the game at 10:16 and Rob Hellyer marked his return to the line-up with another at 13:24 firing from the dotted line. King collected his second at 14:14 with a quick stick in close and that gave the Shamrocks a 7-4 lead. Unfortunately more penalty problems for the Rocks led to a pair of Nanaimo power play goals before the period ended, Brody Eastwood getting both. The first came at 16:59 from outside the dotted line and at 17:23 he found the top corner. That sent the team to the dressing room with the home team holding a slim 7-6 lead. Nanaimo held the edge in shots on goal by a margin of 16-15.
The Timbermen continued their momentum into the final frame, Smith getting his second of the contest just 29 seconds in off a rebound from a Victoria shot. They took the lead at 1:22, Matthew Benedict tallying on a hard, low shot from outside the dotted line. Hagedorn took a brief respite between the pipes as he was replaced by Adam Shute for a little over a minute before returning. Victoria tied the score at 8 with a Rhys Duch shot at 7:27 from the side of the crease and Gibson collected his hat trick marker just 8 seconds later getting a breakaway off the faceoff to make it 9-8 Victoria. Nanaimo wasn’t quitting and came back with a pair of their own, Eastwood collecting his hat trick goal at 14:52 with a quick stick in front and took the lead for what would be the final time at 15:54. It looked like the visitors might sneak out with a win but King wasn’t having any of it as he notched his third of the night at 18:13, diving across. After 60 minutes nothing was resolved so it was on to a 10-minute overtime period.
It didn’t take too long but it wasn’t who you might have expected who scored what would turn out to be the winning goal for the Shamrocks. Instead it was a tri of defenders combining on transition as team Matt Yager got the ball behind Claxton with assists from Brett Craig and Derek Lloyd. Despite pulling the goaltender, Nanaimo was unable to create anything else as they dropped the 1-goal decision.
While Victoria might have been expected to have won by a larger margin in view of Nanaimo being without a couple of key players, it took everything they had to get the victory and puts a bit of distance between the two teams.
Victoria’s offense was led by Jesse King with 3 goals and 3 helpers and Tyson Gibson with 3 goals and 1 assist. They were named first and third stars respectively. Casey Jackson had a pair of goals, Rob Hellyer chipped in a goal and 3 assists with Rhys Duch and Matt Yager adding singles. Chris Wardle had 3 assists while Cody Hagedorn picked up the win with 32 saves on 42 shots.
For the Timbermen it was team captain Brody Eastwood leading the way with the hat trick and 1 assist to earn second star honours. Brandan Smith picked up a pair of goals with singles coming from Matthew Benedict, Baden Boyenko and Keenan Koswin. Jr. ‘A’ Timbermen call-up Thomas Vaesen picked up 3 assists.
In other Friday action, Maple Ridge defeated the Burnaby Lakers and those results move Maple Ridge into first place, 1 point ahead of the New Westminster Salmonbellies. Victoria continues to sit in third, 2 points behind New West and 2 points ahead of fourth-place Nanaimo. Victoria is on the road Saturday to take on the Coquitlam Adanacs and return to the Q Centre next Friday, July 6 to take on the Langley Thunder in a 7:30 pm start.