The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals fought hard and kept the game close. But a late goal by the Nanaimo Buccaneers ended up tripping the Generals 5-4 in Game 1 of their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff series on Tuesday night at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
The Generals pressured the Buccaneers defence. They trailed 3-2 and 4-3 in the first two periods. In the third, the Generals got an early boost as they were able to square things up 4-4 on a man-advantage netted by Brodie Smith at 2:46, his second of the night.
The intensity of the game went up another notch after that, with both sides trading shots. But with less than four minutes left to play, the Buccaneers got a clutch goal by Trent Bell to snap the deadlock.
“It was an exciting game, pretty much back and forth,” said Max Creighton, the Generals’ leading scorer in the regular season with 17 goals and 11 assists. “Going into the third period there, we had them where we wanted them, we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances. It’s a bit of a frustrating game that way ’cause we had all the opportunities to score but just couldn’t put them away. It was hard-fought by our team.”
The Buccaneers went 3-for-6 on the power play while the Generals were 2-for-9 with the man advantage.
“I think we took some penalties that kinda cost us,” said Creighton. “They were really good in their power play (Tuesday) night. We need to work on our penalty kill going into Thursday night.”
The other scorers for the Generals were Brady Kay and Landon Dziadyk. Goalie Jacob Sweet made 32 saves in a losing cause.
“I think we might have given them a little too much offence, [more] than we would have liked,” said Bell, who scored the winning goal for the Bucs. “But at the same time, we battled back. Every time they scored, we’d always have a big shift right after.”
Creighton said the Gens will be seeking to even the series when they take on the Buccaneers in Game 2 tonight, Feb. 22, at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 7:15.
“It’s huge to split the series at their home barn,” said Creighton. “It puts a lot more pressure on them because we’re the underdogs.
Following tonight’s Game 2, the series moves to Oceanside Place for Game 3 on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Game 4 will be on Monday at Oceanside place at 7 p.m.
— With files from
Nanaimo News Bulletin