NANAIMO — For the Nanaimo Buccaneers, trying to catch the North Division leading Campbell River Storm is much like salmon fishing. Every time they reel them in closer to the boat, they have to spot them some line and hope they tire out.
The Buccaneers picked up three big points on October 18 in their 2-0 win over the visiting Oceanside Generals.
The win had the Bucs within four points of their North Island Division rival Campbell River Storm. But Nanaimo's October 20 game against the Kerry Park Islanders saw the Swordsmen earn one of their most decisive losses of the season.
Defenceman Nolan Renke paid the Buccaneers an early Halloween haunting after being dealt to the Cowichan Valley.
Renke scored two goals against his former club, en route to an Islanders 9-4 lopsided win. Dawson Blanchette was named the games’ first star for the Islanders, scoring twice and added a helper.
Evan Easton had a goal and two assists for Kerry Park, while Trey Watson responded with a pair for the Buccaneers. Darian Harris and Seamus O’Toole also scored a goal each for Nanaimo in the losing effort.
The loss didn’t sit well with the Buccaneers, and their determination Thursday, Sept. 25 to the Oceanside Generals reflected that. Head Coach and General Manager Curt Toneff liked the effort and reinvigorated spirit from his troops.
“I really liked how the guys responded, particularly in the second period. It’s a playoff atmosphere tonight, and I think this might be the best I’ve seen them play this season,” Toneff said.
Generals' goaltender James Brendeland was outstanding through the first two periods, but had to leave the game after a collision in his crease late in the second frame.
VIJHL feature player of the week, Jacob Sweet, came in relief of Brendeland, who was named Oceanside’s player of the game. It took until nearly halfway through the game for Darian Harris to break the scoreless deadlock. Tyson McLean gave Nanaimo some breathing room, beating Jacob Sweet with less than two minutes to play in the third period. Riley Gannon added an empty netter to seal the affair for the Buccaneers. Rookie netminder Austin Dendl earned his first VIJHL shutout, stopping all 22 shots he faced, and was solid throughout. His biggest test came at the 15:58 mark of the second period. Generals defenceman Aleko Karamanis was awarded a rare penalty shot after Trey Boylan was forced to hook him from behind on a breakaway chance. Dendl stood his ground and got a piece of Karamanis’ low wrist shot.
Nanaimo will host the league leading, red hot Victoria Cougars Thursday, November 1 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 7:15 p.m. Former Buccaneer and VIJHL top point producer Mateo Albinati returns with goaltender Owen Sikkes who boasts a scintillating 0.67 goals against average, and 0.967 save percentage.
Fans at the Pirate Ship could be in for another low scoring, goaltender dual.
— Larenzo Jensen is the play-by-play voice of the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
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