Glacier Kings force fifth game with Braves in VIJHL playoffs

COMOX VALLEY'S Jackson Garrett vies for the puck with Saanich defenceman Hayden Long while goalie Tanner McGaw looks on.

"And the award for most dramatic goal in game four of a best-of-five series goes to ... Joel Wheeldon of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings!"

Those suffering through Sunday's Oscar awards on television would not have heard those words, and those sweating out Sunday's Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff game at George Pearkes Arena wish they hadn't.

Wheeldon scored at 4:32 of overtime to cap a 4-3 Glacier King comeback over the Saanich Braves that forced a fifth and deciding game in their first round playoff series.

That game was played Tuesday night in Courtenay, with result unavailable at press time.

The Yetis were facing a must-win game Sunday. After taking the opener 8-7 Feb. 22 at home, they lost 3-2 in OT Feb. 25 in Saanich then fell 4-2 Feb. 26 at home.

Wheeldon's game winner also put him in the running for the Most Unlikely Hero award: the rookie defenceman from Campbell River had exactly one goal through 41 regular season games.

Best Skater When On the Ice Instead of in the Penalty Box honours went to Jackson Garrett, who caused his team some anxious moments with four minor penalties but who set up Wheeldon for his top-shelf winner, scored an unassisted shorthand goal, and drew an assist on Ryan Bradley's first period power-play marker.

Cameron Waddington made some big saves in the third period and picked up the win, but Tanner McGaw garnered Best Supporting Player accolades as he stood on his head to keep the Yetis at bay: Comox Valley outshot Saanich 53-42.

The visitors got off to a slow start as Saanich built a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the first period. The Icemen capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play at the 14:58 mark when Bradley lit the lamp.

The Glacier Kings began carrying the play to the Braves in the second and silenced the hometown crowd with a pair of unassisted shorthanded goals by Garrett and Kelin Hrycuik, the latter coming with just 53 seconds left in the period.

The Braves pulled even on the power play in the third, setting the stage for Wheeldon's extra-time heroics.

Game two Feb. 25 in Saanich was a goaltending duel between James Davison  of the Glacier Kings and McGaw. Final shots on goal favoured the Yetis 37-36, but Nicholas Vanstone netted the only shot that ultimately mattered when he scored the OT winner 2:49 into the extra frame.

The teams were tied 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two. Colton Ruthven (on the power play) and Garrett scored for Comox Valley while Dylan Gilbert and Connor Stephens had the other Saanich goals.

The series switched back to Courtenay for game three on Feb. 26, and the Braves never trailed in winning 4-2 and taking a two games to one series lead.

The visitors led 2-0 after one period and 3-2 after two. Stephens' second goal of the game with the Saanich on the power play took the worry out of being close in the third.

Stewart Lee, and Garrett (power play) scored for the Glacier Kings, who outshot Saanich 38-26 but ran into a hot goalie in McGaw. James Kellington and Sam McMullen tallied the other Saanich goals.

ICE CHIPS Peninsula Panthers, who finished second in the regular season, swept seventh-place Campbell River Storm 3-0 in their best-of-five series ... the Kerry Park Islanders and Oceanside Generals played the fifth game in their playoff match-up last night ... in the final B.C. Jr. B team rankings based on winning percentage, the Glacier Kings (32-11-0-1) were ninth and Saanich was 26th (15-23-0-6); VIJHL regular season champs Victoria Cougars (33-9-0-2) were sixth while Peninsula (33-10-0-1) placed eighth ...





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