Buccaneers beat nearly unbeatable team

Nanaimo Buccaneers player Derian Hamilton beats Victoria Cougars goalie Evan Roch but hits the post during a shootout Saturday at Frank Crane Arena. The Bucs won 4-3. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo Buccaneers player Derian Hamilton beats Victoria Cougars goalie Evan Roch but hits the post during a shootout Saturday at Frank Crane Arena. The Bucs won 4-3.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The Nanaimo Buccaneers’ win on the weekend was about as good as it gets for regular-season hockey.

The city’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League club defeated the first-placed Victoria Cougars 4-3 in a shootout Saturday at Frank Crane Arena.

“I liked the way that we never stopped, we never quit,” said Brad Knight, Buccaneers coach. “The goaltending was good and the defence was good, there was good [scoring] opportunities. It’s what two teams that are at the top of their divsion should be playing like – it was entertaining, it was exciting.”

The defending champs skated to a 2-0 lead, but the Bucs got a goal in the dying seconds of the second period to make it a 2-1 game going into the third. Nanaimo had the edge in play in the period, but still needed two tying goals to keep pace. With a minute and a half left Victoria bowled over Nanaimo goalie Riley Medves and thought they scored the game-winner, but it was waved off, giving the home team another chance.

Still tied after overtime, the game went to a shootout that the Bucs won on Corey Renwick’s low wrister.

“All the guys were saying their goalie had a really good glove hand, so I went blocker side and managed to sneak one in,” he said.

The win was a big one for the Bucs (20-14-2). For one thing, it came against a Cougars team (33-1-2) that doesn’t lose very often. As well, the win might have exposed the Bucs to a slightly different fan base at Frank Crane as part of a Hockey Day in Nanaimo doubleheader with the Nanaimo Clippers.

“It motivates all the guys to keep going, and it felt great,” Renwick said. “We’re going to have lots of confidence going into next game. We’ve just got to keep it simple and keep playing Buccaneers hockey.”

ICE CHIPS … Daniel Foglietta scored two goals for the Bucs and Renwick had a goal in regulation to go with his shootout winner. Medves made 37 saves as shots were 42-40 in favour of Nanaimo. The Buccaneers host the Kerry Park Islanders on Thursday (Jan. 10) at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

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