NANAIMO — The Buccaneers strung together two convincing wins to end a modest losing skid, and were forced to be very active with the VIJHL December 10 trade deadline looming.
Key injuries combined with a couple of Bucs roster players wanting to play closer to home forced head coach and general manager Curt Toneff to have a phone constantly to his ear.
“It was an interesting 24 hours, to say the least,” Toneff said. “It wasn’t anything planned – it was bad luck, unfortunate timing for some things that transpired. We lost Tyson McLean for the season. We were already short up front. Then Jacob Gosling goes down...We kind of had to do something.”
The Bucs moved Trey Boylan to the Oceanside Generals in exchange for skilled forward Jory Swanson.
“Things didn’t stop there, we picked up Chase Fioretti (6’2, 170 lbs), a rookie. He’s an up and down kind of forward we picked up in a player development, kind of cash deal.”
The Calgary, AB native’s speed and fore-check looked good in his home debut during the Buccaneers 8-0 win over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
“We had already moved Dawson Wollf, then 24 hours before the deadline young Harrison Tucker decided he wanted to be moved closer to home. Maybe we never would have moved Boylan, but it was already a done deal. Fast forward a tiny bit I began talking to Brad Tippett (Peninsula Panthers head coach) he had 20- year-old Zachary Evans (6’2, 200 lbs), a third year guy available, and we decided to pull the trigger.”
Evans, a Victoria, B.C. product, was the Peninsula Panthers Most Improved player during the 2016/17 season. He went on to take his crash and bang defensive style to Junior A hockey in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We added Nathan Hauser (6’3, 185 lbs) as well, a guy I watched play in the playoffs last year for Saanich. I know he had some up and down moments, but I really like him and maybe can do better a little closer to home. We also got Dylan Devers out of Revelstoke, 13 points in 19 games, so he’ll add some offence up front".
Toneff wasn't done there, far from it. The Bucs also acquired 18-year-old forward Dawson Heathcote, who returns to the Bucs from the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers.
Heathcoate, a Nanaimo Minor Hockey grad, played one season for the Swordsmen during the 2016/17 campaign. The then 16-year-old sensation scored 21 goals, 33 assists for 54 points in 47 games.
He also captured the league's rookie-of-the-year and most sportsmanlike player awards.
Heathcote played 74 games for the Tigers over the last two years, scoring 6 times and adding 5 assists during that span. The Twitter-verse rumblings of Heathcoate's return to the VIJHL has people talking.
Buccaneers President, Clayton Robinson who helped orchestrate the Dylan Devers deal, noted the importance of having Heathcoate back in black and yellow.
“We get Dawson back at a very important time. We have two games with the (Campbell River) Storm before Christmas, I really believe he will be able to make an impact right away,” Robinson said. “They’ve given us a couple of beatings this year, - it’s time we give them a couple right back.”
Nanaimo hosts the Storm in the Hockey TV game of the week Thursday (Dec 13) at 7:15pm at the Pirate Ship.
The Bucs will host the Storm again on December, 20 just prior to the Christmas break.
— Larenzo Jensen is the play-by-play voice of the Buccaneers.
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