The first week of hockey season was a rollicking voyage for the Nanaimo Buccaneers, and they came out with two wins in two tries.
The city’s new expansion franchise in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League won its home opener 5-4 in overtime Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, then won a rematch up Island two nights later. 3-2.
“We played well,” said Brad Knight, coach of the Buccaneers. “We can always play better but I’m happy with the way we started. I think youth and I think conditioning and I think team speed have a lot to do with our success so we’ll continue to focus on it.”
Thursday’s opener was a thriller, as Nick White scored with 55 seconds left in the third period to force OT, then Quentin McShane scored the winner two minutes into extra time.
In Saturday’s rematch the Bucs broke a 1-1 tie with two goals early in the third period, then held on.
The fast start to the VIJHL season can only be a good thing, said the coach.
“Anytime that you can use confidence and success to help elevate the players and give them clear objectives, it only helps your program,” he said.
An exciting first week should also help. More than 400 fans packed the NIC for the first game and they could only have been satisfied when they left. Knight called it “mistake hockey” out there.
“Of course it’s going to be a brand of entertainment because you’re seeing successes and you’re seeing failures, but even on the failures side it’s exciting because potentially it’s a breakaway or a two-on-one.”
Dylan Moore scored twice for Nanaimo in Thursday’s game and Garrett Dunlop also tallied. On Saturday, it was Jordan Levesque, McShane and Dunlop with the goals. Riley Medves earned both wins in goal.
GAME ON … The Buccaneers host the Victoria Cougars on Thursday (Sept. 13) at 7:45 p.m. at the NIC, then face the Campbell River Storm the next night on the road … Tickets to Bucs home games are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and $5 for children.