To view a slideshow of photos from Thursday’s game, please click here.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers might be an expansion team, but they’re not many skating strides behind the league’s best team.
The city’s new junior B hockey team played an early-season benchmark game on Thursday, losing 3-2 to the Victoria Cougars at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
The Cougars (3-0) are the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s defending champions and have scored 20 goals in their three wins so far this season. The Bucs (2-1) were right there with the visitors, however, hitting two posts in the dying minutes as they tried furiously to tie it up.
“That’s good we showed that heart,” said Travis Briggs, team captain.
Brad Knight, coach of the Buccaneers, said he generally liked his players’ performance except for one 10-minute stretch in the second period where they got running around a little bit.
“I really thought we finished the third [period] well and finished strong,” said Knight. “That’s good signs, it’s all good signs. Everything’s pointing in the right direction.”
Quentin McShane tied the game 1-1 early in the second period when he found room to skate into the slot and get away a backhander. After the Bucs got down 3-1 midway through the third period, Dylan Moore was strong on the puck to get himself into scoring position and roofed a shot to make things interesting. Goalie Cameron Large made 29 saves in defeat.
Briggs said the Buccaneers looked at Thursday’s game as a test.
“We were competing with them just fine…” he said. “We’ve got more speed and strength. We can outplay them physically, we know that, so if we get rolling five-on-five and stay out of the box against this team we’ll be completely fine.”
The Bucs have high enough expectations for themselves that they’re not necessarily big believers in moral victories.
“I never want to teach a kid that losing is all right, within reason,” said Knight. “At the same time, I thought we responded well, I thought we showed some good signs … We’re a young team, we’re going to expect to have these kind of nights. But we skated with the defending champions and we’re going to hang around.”
GAME ON … The Buccaneers played the Campbell River Storm on Friday after press time. Nanaimo’s next VIJHL action is Thursday (Sept. 20) when the Oceanside Generals visit the NIC for a 7:45 p.m. game … To see another 15 action photographs from Thursday’s game, please click here.