NANAIMO – The Buccaneers made things a bit tighter atop the North Division standings this week in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Thursday night versus the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, the host Buccaneers were stunned as the 0-10-0 Kings jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Comox captain Finn Withey jumped on a puck in the slot and placed a perfect shot high over rookie goaltender Austin Dendl. The Glacier Kings appeared hungry to end their winless drought, and played solid defensive hockey. They shut down the Buccaneers offence until the twelve minute mark of the second period, when another rookie, Riley Gannon, scored his first of two goals in the period. He added a tally with 30 seconds left in the second frame to give Nanaimo their first lead of the game.
Comox Valley refused to give up, tying the game on a goal by Jordan Neufeld at 8:55 of the third period. The Buccaneers hit a couple of goal posts before regaining the lead. Captain Billy Walters took advantage of a scramble in front of goaltender Matthias Smith, jamming home the rebound off a net drive by Josh Zary. Rookie Zary continued his torrid point accumulation in the early goings. His 12 goals and 6 assists through 13 games have him sitting second in the VIJHL for points, behind former Buccaneer Mateo Albinati (10-13-23). Teammates Darian Harris is hot on Zary’s heels, tied for third in League scoring (13-4-17) and Riley Gannon (8-6-14) holding steady at 8th.
The Glacier Kings pulled their goaltender for a 6th attacker with two minutes remaining in the third, but were unable to get the tying goal. The Buccaneers nearly padded their stats, hitting the post once, and grazing it another time in that span. Finn Withey and Riley Gannon were named their teams’ first stars in the Buccaneer 3-2 win. Austin Dendl finished the game with 16 saves on 18 shots, while Matthias Smith stopped 32 of 35 shots in a losing effort.
The Buccaneers made a trip to Oceanside Place for the first game of a home-and-home series with the Generals Saturday night. Once again, Nanaimo spotted their opponent a 1-0 advantage, Landon Dziadyk depositing a deft pass from Brady Kay past Austin Dendl. Enter Darian Harris, who started to take over the game for the Buccaneers. He scored a natural hat trick in the span of 5 minutes. At 14:46 of the first period, he converted a pass from Billy Walters and Lucas Patton. Less than two minutes later, he beat James Brendaland with helpers going to Josh Zary and Trey Watson. With 6 seconds left in the first frame, he completed the natural hat trick, making good on a Tyson McLean feed.
Darian Harris recorded his fourth point of the night to put Nanaimo up 4-1, setting up Riley Gannon with help from Trey Boylan. Brady Kay responded for Oceanside a minute later, with Landon Dziadyk returning the assist favor on the games’ opening goal. Harris scored his fourth goal of the game with five minutes to go in the middle stanza on an unassisted effort. Landon Dziadyk notched his second of the game, teaming up again with Brady Kay. Trey Watson restored Nanaimo’s three goal advantage with forty seconds remaining in the second period. Both teams went goalless in the third period, Nanaimo earning three points in the standings with the 6-3 final.
The Buccaneers host the Oceanside Generals on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7:15 p.m. at the Pirate Ship (Nanaimo Ice Centre). The Swordsmen then visit the Kerry Park Islanders on Saturday night.
— Larenzo Jensen is the play-by-play voice of the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
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