The Nanaimo Buccaneers are making some changes as they try to keep skating around the top of their division.
The city’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team played each of the other three teams in the North Island Division last week, beating the Oceanside Generals 4-2, getting blown out by the Campbell River Storm 7-1 and then falling to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 3-1.
The Bucs’ win over Gens came Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
“I thought we scored some nice goals,” said Brad Knight, the team’s coach. “I thought we started to settle the puck down a little bit.”
Garrett Dunlop scored a hat trick to lead his team to victory and Shane Dial was Nanaimo’s other scorer. Noah Russi and Dayton Boutilier had two assists each and Michael Herringer made 25 saves for the win.
Dunlop said the Bucs won by doing the simple things on the ice, and said his line had success by sticking to its game.
“We were not getting into any of the after-the-whistle stuff,” he said. “We were just playing our skill game, moving our feet, shooting the puck more and that seems to really work for our line.”
Things went badly the next night, though, as the host Storm stormed to a 7-0 lead before Riel Gibson broke up the shutout bid in the third period. Shots were 58-32 in favour of Campbell River.
On Saturday at Comox, the Bucs outshot the Glacier Kings 34-21 and had a couple of disallowed goals in the loss. Mikko Keski-Pukkila scored his first as a Buccaneer.
Knight said the addition of Keski-Pukkila, along with the acquisition of Eric Kennelly last month, will give the Buccaneers a lot of forward depth once they’re healthy.
“All of a sudden we’ve got three lines that can score goals. We have three legitimate first lines, which we’re really happy about,” the coach said. “And we think that’s maybe the way we’re going to approach the rest of the season.”
Dunlop said the Bucs can get back to their winning ways with teamwork.
“We’ve got the grinders who will grind it out in the corners, we’ve got our goal scorers, we’ve got our goaltenders, we’ve got our steady D-men,” he said. “We just need everybody to buy into their roles and then we’ll be fine.”
GAME ON … The Buccaneers host the Storm on Thursday (Dec. 19) at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.