The first-placed Nanaimo Buccaneers won again and gave themselves a chance to have a great weekend.
The Bucs beat the Campbell River Storm 4-1 on Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. They play the Storm again Friday (Dec. 7) up Island and then on Saturday, Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team plays its third game in three days when it takes on the Oceanside Generals in Parksville.
The Bucs were short-handed due to both illness and injury on Thursday, but affiliate player Curtis McCarrick stepped in and scored two goals, his first at the junior level. Will McNamara and Derian Hamilton had Nanaimo’s other markers, Adam Smith had two assists and Riley Medves got the win in goal. Shots were 29-29.
A turning point in the game came late in the second period with Nanaimo up 2-0. Hamilton’s breakaway goal to make it 3-0 was only possible because Medves made an acrobatic save on a Storm three-on-one seconds earlier.
“If that goes in, all of a sudden it’s a totally different hockey game,” said Brad Knight, Nanaimo coach.
The coach said his team skated well on the night and had good control of the puck in the offensive zone.
“It’s nice to have that confidence and be playing some good hockey so you have something to reference to,” said Medves.
For example, the Bucs know they haven’t had their best games against the Generals this season, so they’ll look to do better this Saturday and take a lead in the season series, currently 3-3.
“It’s really going to come down to hard work and probably just one or two chances like it has with a lot of the games,” Medves said.
Most of the meetings between the neighbouring teams have been close.
“Because there’s so many Nanaimo kids on that [Oceanside] team, it’s a real nice, competitive rivalry; it’s a positive rivalry and it’s always exciting when we play them,” Knight said.
GAME ON … The Buccaneers (14-11-2) play the Storm (6-20-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Campbell River. The Bucs and Gens (10-14-2) face off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Oceanside Place in Parksville.