NANAIMO — The Buccaneers (16-3) fended off a late-game scare to edge the Kerry Park Islanders 3-2 Thursday night at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Star forward Mathieu Jallabert, the VIJHL's points leader (15.17.32 in 14 games), collected a goal and two assists to lead the Swordsmen to victory.
Bucs associate coach Cam McCarrick praised Jallabert after the game, calling the 20-year-old Nanaimo product a dominant game-changer.
“He can change the pace of a game at any time, slow a game game down or speed it up,” McCarrick said. “He's a really special player and definitely the kind of guy you want to lean on especially in a game like tonight.”
Jallabert opened the scoring 1:42 into the second period by using his speed to convert a shorthanded breakaway goal. Jallabert deked to his backhand before flipping the puck over the outstretched right leg of Islanders goalie JJ Pichette.
Jallabert then set up Dylan Hartl, who buried a textbook cross-crease pass off the rush, to give the Bucs a 2-0 cushion early in the third period. However, Kerry Park (8-10-0-1) would score twice (Will Connors and Evan Easton) to square the game up.
The Bucs needed a boost and Jallabert delivered.
With a little over 7:00 left in regulation, Jallabert stripped the puck from an Islander, rushed into the attacking zone and had his rebound tapped home by Brandon Roberge.
The Islanders had a few late chances, but 16-year-old goaltender Blake Wood slammed the door shut to preserve the win.
McCarrick told NanaimoNewsNOW they weren't sharp for various stretches of the game.
“We were a little complacent and didn't do our jobs at times, we just have to key in on that especially locking it down in the third period."
The Bucs outshot Kerry Park 32-25 in front of 320 fans at the Pirate Ship.
Nanaimo's powerplay was 0-for-7, while the Isles went 1-for-5 with an extra man.
The Bucs have won two games in a row after dropping a pair of showdowns last week to the Campbell River Storm, which snapped Nanaimo's 13-game winning streak.
The Bucs visit the Saanich Braves Friday (Nov. 10) then host the Westshore Wolves Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 7:15 p.m.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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