There will be at least another round of playoff hockey in Nanaimo.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers have advanced to the VIJHL semifinals after taking care of the Westshore Wolves four games to one in a first-round best-of-seven series.
The Bucs beat the Wolves 5-3 in Game 5 on Thursday at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
“I could just tell by the mood in the dressing room that our guys were ready to close it out and move on and, I guess, play the waiting game here,” said Curtis Toneff, Buccaneers coach.
Chase Fioretti, Darian Harris, Billy Walters, Lucas Patton and Riley Gannon scored for the Bucs and Blake Wood made 26 saves as shots were 33-29 for the home team.
Toneff said his team got healthier over the course of the series, which will serve them well in Round 2.
The Buccaneers don’t yet know their second-round opponent. They anticipate facing the Victoria Cougars in the semis, but there’s also a chance Nanaimo could be up against the Saanich Braves.
“If we just stick with it and stay disciplined and take care of our D zone – because our offensive looks will come – I like our chances against anyone…” Toneff said. “This time of year a lot of things come down to goaltending and I like our goaltending over anyone else’s. And our special teams have really picked up in the playoffs.”
If the Bucs face the Cougars in the semis, the series will start in Victoria. If the Bucs are matched up against the Braves, then Nanaimo would have home-ice advantage. Either way, Toneff said he’s hoping for good crowds at the games at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
“With the Clippers unfortunately being out, it’s a good chance for people to maybe see a different side of the game,” he said. “And we have a lot of local boys.”