Braves Midget Tier 1 launches playoff run

Game 1 of playoffs is 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Pearkes Arena

Oak Bay’s Jarod Timmins faces off for the Midget Tier 1 Saanich Braves in a recent game against Nanaimo. The two will re-match Feb. 11 in the final of three first-round playoff games for the Braves.

Oak Bay’s Jarod Timmins faces off for the Midget Tier 1 Saanich Braves in a recent game against Nanaimo. The two will re-match Feb. 11 in the final of three first-round playoff games for the Braves.



Jennifer Blyth

Oak Bay New

The Midget Tier 1 Braves hope to “fill the barn” as they embark on this year’s hockey playoffs, Saturday at Pearkes Arena.

The team, in its second year of welcoming players from Oak Bay, Victoria and Esquimalt in addition to Saanich, opens play at 3 p.m. Feb. 4 against the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies. The team heads to Comox Sunday for Game 2 and to Nanaimo Feb. 11 for the final round-robin game.

The Braves finished second in  the quest for the regular season title, a single point behind Port Alberni, which drops to Tier 3 for Island playoffs.

Despite serious injuries to several players, the team has rallied, notes coach Ian Birnie.

“One of the highlights for this year’s team was winning the Midget Victoria Classic in November. It’s my understanding it’s the first time an Island team has won the local tournament in 10 years,” Birnie said. “The players have worked extremely hard and have played some outstanding hockey. The loss of some key players to injury has not stopped this group from playing at the highest level possible.”

The 15- to 17-years-olds include a core of returning players who have provincial experience with Birnie, who has taken the team to the B.C.s for the past three years. While it won’t be easy, the team aims to stretch the run to four.

“This year’s team has balance both offensively and defensively, but I think our goaltending has been superb all year and to be successful in the playoffs you need good goaltending,” Birnie said of third-year Connor Mc-Killop and second-year Cam St. Pierre between the pipes.

Following round-robin, the top two teams play for the Island title, with the winner heading to the B.C. Championships in Prince George this March.