Buccaneers win first playoff series
It's been a season of firsts for the Nanaimo Buccaneers, and on Tuesday they made some more team history.
The Bucs defeated the Kerry Park Islanders 5-2 in Game 4 at Mill Bay to sweep their best-of-seven series four games to none.
"For a lot of us, this is our first [best-of-seven] series so it was definitely a new experience. I think the team really did well," said Quentin McShane, Bucs captain. "We stuck to our game and played how we could."
Garrett Dunlop scored his first hat trick in junior hockey, and added a fourth goal, too, to lead his team's offence.
He opened the scoring on a wraparound in the first period but the Islanders were skating hard in the first period too and tied it midway through the frame.
The score stayed that way until late in the second period, when the Bucs struck for two power-play goals. Lee Orpen skated through the slot and tipped in a Derian Hamilton point shot, and soon after that, Beau Blanaru waited along the side boards and then found Dunlop open at the side of the net for a redirect.
Dunlop scored again 30 seconds into the third period as he turned and fired a wrister on net while being checked. He added his fourth goal five minutes later as he beat his man and got free at the side of the net.
"We started to figure it out and just bury it," Dunlop said. "Everybody stepped up their game and made plays."
Blanaru finished with three assists and goalie Cam Large made 24 saves for the win.
After the game the players and coaching staff were already looking ahead to their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinal series against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, but they'll savour this one for a little while.
"The most important thing is to make sure we enjoy all the steps and all the experiences," said Brad Knight, Buccaneers coach.
GAME ON … The Bucs and Glacier Kings will open their playoff series Tuesday (March 5) at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Faceoff will be at 7:15 p.m. Game 2 will be March 7, also at 7:15 p.m. at the NIC.