NANAIMO — The Buccaneers came from behind to beat the visiting Saanich Braves 5-4 in overtime to take a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-7 VIJHL semifinal series.
Darian Harris scored at the 3:30 mark of the second overtime session by burying the puck in the top corner past Braves goaltender, Riley Matheson, Wednesday night at the Pirate Ship.
“That's probably one of the biggest goals I've ever scored, it feels awesome,” Harris said. The 19-year-old Ladysmith product said it was a critical win, especially since the series shifts back to Saanich for Games 3 and 4 Saturday and Monday nights.
“It's huge, we need these games, we've got to go in their barn as well and have the same mentality we have in our barn.”
The Bucs also got goals from Brandon Roberge, Owen Dalman, Trent Bell and Noah Kelly. Nanaimo led 2-1 heading into what was a wild third period, which eventually saw Nanaimo's Roberge tie the game at 4 midway through the period.
Saanich dominated the second period, outshooting the Bucs 15-4. However, Nanaimo cranked up the pressure in the third period and overtime sessions generating a bulk of the quality scoring chances. It was a fast paced, physical affair, that got nasty at times.
Saanich outshot the Swordsmen 43-30.
The Braves went 2-for-8 on the powerplay, while the Bucs were 0-for-3.
Nanaimo head coach Curtis Toneff said adjusting to Saanich's exceptionally small ice surface will be a focus of discussion as the series shifts down island.
“If you turn a puck over in the neutral zone and they're coming back our way it happens quick, everything happens quick,” Toneff said. “It's kind of like air hockey or pinball.”
Nanaimo lost both games in Saanich handily during the regular season by scores of 4-0 and 8-3.
The uplifting win was dampened for Nanaimo, who lost one of their most valuable players in defenceman Dylan Hartl. He left the game early in the third period and was taken to hospital with a hand injury. Coach Toneff told NanaimoNewsNOW Hartl's injury is serious and he's not expected back in the lineup anytime soon.
Game 5, if necessary, would happen Thursday, March 15 at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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