The Nanaimo Buccaneers are one win away from advancing to the finals.
The Bucs beat the Saanich Braves by a 7-3 score on Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre in Game 5 of the VIJHL semifinals and now lead the best-of-seven series three games to two.
“Everyone was pulling their weight which is what we need every single night,” said Brandon Roberge, who scored two goals for Nanaimo.
The Bucs got the start they needed in Game 5, blitzing the Braves and taking a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Braves made it 5-3 going into the third, but the Bucs were in control and scored twice more to ice the victory.
“That first period, that’s as good as we’ve come out all year…” said Curtis Toneff, Buccaneers coach. “I thought we just dialled down and stayed disciplined in the third and looked like a team that was comfortable with the puck, with the lead, which is important at this time of year.”
Roberge had an assist to go with his goals and other Nanaimo scorers were Joshua Zary, Wyatt Selva, Seamus O’Toole, Noah Kelly and Billy Walters. Derek Krall made 30 saves for the win.
For the Braves, Gavin Grewal, Michael Sproule and Ryan Strange scored and Riley Mathieson made 36 saves in defeat.
The Bucs would love to be able to finish off the series on the road Friday in Saanich, but the Braves are tough in their own building.
“We’ve had great periods there, it’s just about putting together a full 60 minutes of hard work,” Toneff said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be an oil painting.”
Nanaimo will need another complete effort to be able to win on the road, said Roberge.
“Going into Saanich we need to be so dialled in…” he said. “We need to get pucks out, focus, dial down, D zone, D zone, D zone, that’s going to be the key.”
There’s plenty of motivation to try to win and advance, but the Buccaneers will look at what’s in front of them, said Roberge.
“A shift at a time and that builds to period wins, games won, series wins,” he said.
GAME ON … The Bucs and Braves face off Friday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. at George Pearkes Arena. Game 7, if necessary, would be back at the NIC on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.