Nanaimo Buccaneers forward Dawson Heathcote

Buccaneers win home opener 7-6 in overtime

The Nanaimo Buccaneers won a barnburner to start the VIJHL season, defeating the Oceanside Generals 7-6 on Thursday at the NIC.

The Nanaimo Buccaneers won and they entertained, too.

The Bucs won a barnburner to start the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, defeating the Oceanside Generals 7-6 in overtime on Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

Trent Bell scored the game-winning goal 29 seconds into the first OT frame.

“An overtime win in your home opener, it’s fun, it’s not going to happen a lot…” Bell said. “It’s pretty cool.”

The game was tied 3-3 after one period and then 5-5 after two. Nanaimo went ahead with six and a half minutes left, but Oceanside scored a power-play marker with just over two minutes left to force OT.

On the first shift of the extra frame, Bell was given too much space in the corner and was able to dart to the side of the crease and roof a backhander over the opposing goalie’s shoulder.

“I’m pretty proud of how we battled back. We got down a couple times, but didn’t let it get into our heads, we just kept playing,” Bell said. “It was an up and down game, lots of lead changes and I don’t think we played our best game, but being able to win when not playing your best game is a good thing.”

Cam McCarrick, Bucs assistant coach, said there are areas that the team needs to be better as far as X’s and O’s, but he liked his players’ mentality in the opener.

“[For] a really young group of guys like that, I felt like we kept our composure when we were getting scored on and we battled back to gain our leads,” McCarrick said. “It’s just one of those games where you’ve got to [manage] those highs and lows and I felt like we did that well today.”

Bell finished with two goals and three assists and Dawson Heathcote had two goals and two assists. Julius Zhang scored Nanaimo’s first goal of the season and Chad Bell and Nolan Richardson were other scorers. John Hawthorne made 29 saves as the Generals outshot the Buccaneers 35-21.

For Parksville, Ethan Sundstrum and Brodie Smith had two goals apiece and Mateo Giomo and Cam Nickerson were other scorers. Matt Henwood made 14 saves in the loss.

GAME ON … The Bucs visit the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Saturday (Sept. 10). Next home action is Sept. 15, when the Buccaneers face the Campbell River Storm in a 7:15 p.m. faceoff at the NIC.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com