In the most exciting game of the playoffs so far, the Nanaimo Buccaneers found a way to win.
The Bucs beat the Saanich Braves 5-4 in Game 2 of the VIJHL semifinals on Wednesday night at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
The visitors had third-period leads twice and the home team tied it up both times. It took double overtime before Darian Harris scored the game-winning goal.
He had enough space just outside the slot to get off a hard shot to the top corner three and a half minutes into double OT.
“That was a heck of a shot,” said Curtis Toneff, Nanaimo coach. “It was a big lift for our guys just to grind it out to try and get these first two at home.
Nanaimo was outshot 43-30 in the game, but was winning almost all the races and puck battles in the third period and overtime.
“That’s our depth kicking in. It was similar in the Oceanside series,” Toneff said. “They played with us for long periods of time and at times we got outplayed, but I think when it mattered most, we had the jump at the end there.”
Trent Bell, Noah Kelly, Owen Dalman and Brandon Roberge scored Nanaimo’s other goals and Derek Krall was the winning goalie with 39 saves.
For the Braves, Michael Sproule, Jake Wilhelm, Zach Guerra and Trevor Owens tallied and Riley Mathieson had 25 saves in goal.
The series now moves to Saanich, which proved a hard place to play for Nanaimo during the regular season, so the Bucs are glad to go down there with a 2-0 series lead.
“It’s huge; we needed the games,” Harris said. “We’ve got to go into their barn as well and have the same mentality as we play in our barn.”
Toneff, too, said the opponents play well in their arena and his team will look at strategies to try to adjust to the smaller ice surface.
GAME ON … Game 3 is Saturday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. at George Pearkes Arena and Game 4 is Monday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Pearkes Arena.