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Comox Valley doubles up Oceanside to open VIJHL playoff series

The Comox Valley Glacier Kings had a three-goal outburst in the first period, then held off a late surge by the Oceanside Generals to take the opening game in their best-of-seven Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League North Island quarter-final series.

The Glacier Kings came out strong in front of their hometown fans.

Aodhan Hildebrandt opened the scoring just three minutes in, when he caught Generals’ defence and goalie Marc Samyn napping. He came in short side and carried the puck around the net for an easy wraparound goal.

Brigham Nye made it 2-0 four minutes later with a sharp angle shot to Samyn’s left that somehow found twine.

The Generals had a glorious opportunity to cut into the lead eight minutes in, when the Yetis took two penalties within 20 seconds of each other, giving the visitors an elongated five-on-three, but Ryan Knight was impenetrable. He stopped half a dozen Oceanside shots to preserve the two-goal lead.

“Ryan was a big guy for us tonight,” said Glacier Kings head coach Mike Nesbitt. “Player ofthe game in our books.”

Oceanside had another power play opportunity at the 12-minute mark but the Comox Valley penalty-killing units were once again up to the task, allowing but a single shot on net.

The Glacier Kings made it a 3-0 game on their first power-play opportunity in the 16th minute, when Alex Bend’s shot from the top of the circle beat Samyn cleanly on the glove side.

Shots were 19-12 in the first period.

The defences clamped down in the second period, with only seven shots combined through the first 12 minutes of the frame.

The teams traded power play chances but the score remained 3-0 heading into the third.

The Glacier Kings outshot the Generals 9-5 in the period, but what the second period lacked in scoring was made up for in physicality, with some thunderous checks thrown by both teams.

“Our first period was obviously awesome, but our second period was probably the best defensive structure we can play,” said Nesbitt. “There are definitely some sore bodies in there (dressing room) now but it was great to see,” he added, in regard to the physical play.

Tanner Gould’s goal 19 seconds into the third period gave the Glacier Kings a 4-0 lead, and Knight appeared to be headed for his first VIJHL post-season shutout until the team got into penalty trouble.

Two infractions on the same play gave Oceanside a two-minute five-on-three power play and this time they capitalized, as Brady Van Herk tapped home a scramble in front to give the Generals some life.

They pulled Samyn for an extra attacker with 2:45 remaining, and Braydon Ross made it 4-2 with :44 to play. The Generals continued to apply pressure for the final half-minute, but to no avail.

“We have to stay out of the box,” said Nesbitt. “You can’t take penalties like that at the end. You have to play 60 minutes and we didn’t play 60 minutes - we played 55. We didn’t want to give them any momentum going into (Game 2) but we gave them that momentum. Now we have to have a good first 20 (minutes) in Oceanside.”

“It was a tale of two games I thought for our team,” said Oceanside head coach Dan Lemmon. “Obviously in the first 20 minutes we weren’t competing hard enough. We weren’t first on pucks. But I thought in the second half of the game, we took over a little bit. There’s certainly something to build upon for our next game in Parksville. I do think if we play the whole 60 minutes on Thursday the way we played the seocnd half of this game, we will get a better result.”

Lemmon credited Samyn with his play after a shaky opening period.

“Marc really picked it up after the first period and that’s the sign of a goalie that is growing in confidence as well,” he said. “He was stellar in the second half of the game.”

The series heads to Parksville for Game 2 Thursday night. Puck drop at Oceanside Place is 7:15 p.m.

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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