The Nanaimo Buccaneers have one of their most valuable players back for the stretch run this season.
Trent Bell, co-MVP of the Bucs last year, scored a goal in his return to the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the Oceanside Generals in VIJHL action.
Brandon Roberge and Wyatt Selva also scored and goaltender Blake Wood stopped all 32 shots he faced for the shutout as first-place Nanaimo added to its lead in the standings.
Curtis Toneff, Bucs coach, thought his team was outplayed at certain points of the game and might not have taken the right approach over the holidays, but said “any time you shut out a team the first game back from the break, I think you’ll take it.”
He credited goaltending said the Bucs generally didn’t allow Oceanside a lot of quality offensive chances.
As for the new addition to the Bucs lineup, Bell played during the fall with the Powell River Kings of the BCHL, and his mid-season return to the Bucs came as something of a surprise for the organization.
“I think he’s a kid that kind of bleeds Bucs yellow,” Toneff said. “I think he really likes to be here and you can tell the guys really like him.”
Bell, who is from Nanoose Bay, said it’s fun to play at home with family and friends in the crowd. He also likes the idea of joining a team that’s expected to contend in the playoffs.
“Every year you want a championship – I think even more so when you’re 20,” said the graduating junior.
He expects to take on more of an offensive role with Buccaneers than he had with the Kings, but the Bucs like a lot of traits that Bell brings.
“He just does not give up,” Toneff said. “He doesn’t take a stride off, let alone a shift off and I think our guys should really watch him, the way he plays the game.”
GAME ON … The Buccaneers visit the Campbell River Storm on Friday, Jan. 5. Next home action at the NIC is Jan. 11, when the Kerry Park Islanders visit for a 7:15 p.m. faceoff.