Playoff hockey arrives for Bucs

The first-ever Nanaimo Buccaneers season has led to the first-ever Nanaimo Buccaneers playoff run.

The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs start tonight (Feb. 19), with the Bucs hosting the Kerry Park Islanders in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series.

“We’re excited to play them; we’re excited that they’re in…” said Brad Knight, Buccaneers coach. “We think we match up well against them and we think we can skate with them.”

Nanaimo (27-17-4) is favoured after winning the North Island Division title, but it lost to Kerry Park (8-36-4) in the last meeting between the two teams.

“It was probably a good wakeup call for our kids to know that we’re playing a team that starts at 0-0 just like we do,” Knight said. “Everyone’s got a clean slate, so it all depends on who wants to play.”

The Bucs are led by the VIJHL’s Rookie of the Year, Garrett Dunlop, who finished sixth in league scoring with 62 points in 48 games. Will McNamara was Nanaimo’s top goal scorer in 2012-13 with 23 goals.

Riley Medves will get the start in goal tonight, but Knight said he plans to continue using both his goaltenders. Medves and Cameron Large finished with nearly identical win-loss records, goals-against averages and save percentages.

GAME ON … Tonight’s game is at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Game 2 will be Thursday, also a 7:15 p.m. faceoff at the NIC.

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