The Nanaimo Buccaneers gave a good account of how they can play as they get ready to host a league showcase event.
The Bucs shut out the Campbell River Storm by a 2-0 score in a rare Tuesday night VIJHL home game at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Nico Kane scored a first-period goal that stood up as the game-winner, Lucas Lundy added a long-distance empty netter in the dying seconds and goalie Carlos Siso stopped all 37 shots he faced in the win.
“That’s probably the best gritty team performance we’ve had…” said Jesse Hammill, Buccaneers associate coach. “It wasn’t perfect, there was some hairy moments for sure and we took too many penalties, but we killed them all off.”
He said it was good to see Siso make the most of an opportunity and added that the Bucs blocked a lot of shots, too.
“I thought all the boys played their part, got pucks deep, forechecked hard, got pucks to the net and got a couple goals,” said Ben Coghlan, Buccaneers forward.
Hammill said with junior hockey players there will always be “ups and downs,” but he hopes a win like Tuesday’s will serve the team well with a month and a half left in the regular season.
“You hope that everyone can get up after that and realize, you know what, when we play we can actually beat anyone in this league,” Hammill said. “We’ve kind of put ourselves behind the eight ball for where we’re going to land in the playoffs … but all we can do is try and get on a bit of a run here.”
It’s a busy week for the Buccaneers organization as it has another home game Thursday, Jan. 9, then hosts the first-ever VIJHL-PJHL Prospects Game on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the NIC. Top 16-18-year-old players from the Island and mainland junior B leagues will face off.
“You’re playing against the other league’s best players and you want to show what you can do. And there’s going to be a lot of scouts in the stands watching, because it is best on best,” Hammill said. “It shows guys what they’ve got to strive for, and even some of the younger guys around this area, the major midget guys and some of the local minor hockey [players], if they come to that game and see what these kids get a chance to do, maybe it’s going to spur them on as well.”
The Buccaneers will be represented by Coghlan and Brendan Rogers. Coghlan said it was a huge honour and a good feeling to be chosen to the VIJHL team and agreed that it will be different teaming up with players from the Storm and Oceanside Generals, for example.
“I’ve got some buddies on the team so it’ll be nice to play with them instead of against them,” Coghlan said. “I think it’ll be a good game, pretty physical. I haven’t seen too much of [the PJHL]. But it’ll be a nice game to watch and play in.”
GAME ON … The Bucs host the Saanich Braves on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 7:15 p.m. at the NIC. Sunday’s Prospects Game is at 2 p.m. at the NIC.