NANAIMO — For the Nanaimo Buccaneers, Sept. 19 may have become an important day on their locker room calendar.
The VIJHL ruled the Buccaneers iced an illegal roster for the first two games of the season, hence their opening wins were converted to losses. Divisional rivals Oceanside and Campbell were given the points in the standings, but the points the players earned during those first two games remained in tact.
For such a young team, news of your first two victories in Junior B hockey could come as quite a blow. But it appears head coach Curt Toneff has used the experience to motivate his largely rookie class.
Buccaneers president and new owner Clayton Robinson commented on the situation surrounding the VIJHL ruling.
“It was as simple as not pressing a button to card a player. Curt (Toneff) feels horrible about it, and we all feel responsible,” Robinson said.
“Can you imagine if we had played a dozen games with that small oversight, not clicking the ‘add’ button? The players don’t really seem to care, they just keep going out there and scoring goals, playing their game. We’ve moved on.”
One day after the standings adjustment, the Buccaneers lit up the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 7-1 at the Pirate Ship in front of more than 300 fans. The Bucs followed up the dominant performance with a 4-1 win Saturday night in Mill Bay over the Kerry Park Islanders.
The Bucs have 5-wins and 2-losses on the season, tied for first place atop the VIJHL's North Division standings with the Campbell River Storm.
Nanaimo forward Darian Harris was named the VIJHL player of the week with 11 points in 6 games. Rookie teammate, Josh Zary, was the runner-up for the honour. Zary has scored in each game this season.
Goaltending has been steady for the Buccaneers, if anything under-worked. When he has been tested, Blake Wood has been solid and consistent. Cedric LeSieur only allowed one goal in his first start this year.
Patiently waiting in the wings is rookie goaltender Austin Dendl. Both Dendl and Wood sport an identical 1.67 Goals Against Average, and 3-0 records. Another former Silvertip, Riley Gannon, is averaging a point a game, notching 3 goals, adding 4 assists through the opening seven contests. The Buccaneers have enjoyed a wide margin of puck possession and shots for and against ratio so far this season.
The difficulty curve ramps up this week, with back-to-back games starting at home against the Peninsula Panthers Thursday (7:15 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre) then in Campbell River Friday evening versus the Storm.
—Larenzo Jensen is the play-by-play voice of the Nanaimo Buccaneers. His views on the Bucs will be shared throughout the season on NanaimoNewsNOW.