Braves season ends one goal short of making VIJHL final

Alarming finish to Saanich Braves season in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League

James Kellington's junior career ended with the Saanich Braves loss in Game 7 of the VIJHL semifinals to the Peninsula Panthers.

James Kellington's junior career ended with the Saanich Braves loss in Game 7 of the VIJHL semifinals to the Peninsula Panthers.

The Saanich Braves hockey season went up in smoke last Saturday.

The Braves surrendered a 3-1 series lead in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinals and were eliminated by the Peninsula Panthers in Game 7.

There was no fire, but there was a fire alarm, and with somewhat controversial timing.

Three minutes into the first overtime period, the fire alarm at Pearkes arena was pulled and disrupted the game. Play resumed after a lengthy break, and Panthers forward Ryan Hunter scored five minutes into the second overtime to win 3-2.

“Kudos to the Peninsula Panthers,” said one hockey coach, unrelated to the two teams. “If whoever pulled the fire alarm did it on behalf of the Panthers, good for them. It was clear they were rolling that top line every second shift.”

That line – Trevor Yee, Joe Densmore and David Stephens – connected for the 2-2 tying goal in the second period, Densmore from Yee and defenceman Chris MacDonald.

But the alarm provided a rest for both teams, and had no outcome on the game, said Braves coach Brad Cook.

“It was random, that’s for sure. I’ve been in that rink for seven years and never seen it happen. But it had no bearing on the game. Though I’m not sure how (Peninsula’s) developing those kids on the bench with the top line playing so much.”

The win completed the Panthers’ comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to kill the Braves’ season.

“Peninsula got better as the series went on,” Cook said. “They fell into a comfort zone with what would work against us, and identified some of our weaknesses.”

Panthers goalie Stephen Heslop was solid, as both he and Braves goalie Tanner McGaw faced 56 shots in Game 7.

“You weren’t going to get a soft one on Heslop,” Cook said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of getting him to move.”

It’s a bittersweet ending to a season with high expecations for the Braves. The Braves have not won the VIJHL since 1996, and have not been in the final since 2006.

On the positive side, it was an unpredicatble series, Cook said. Thirteen games in three weeks is a great experience for the younger Braves, many of whom will play two to three more years of junior hockey.

“This team went from a 12-win season (last year) to the verge of making the finals and packing the rink with fans. We’re pretty happy with the season.”

Braves captain Ty Jones ended the season tied for the VIJHL scoring lead and is the leading contender for the Jamie Benn Trophy as league MVP.

Jones returned from junior A this season and carried the Braves to second overall. He also helped linemate Jack Palmer win the rookie scoring title.

Who returns to the Braves in 2012-13 is already up in the air, with Jones debating a return to junior A and a chance at a Div. 1 scholarship in the NCAA.

Palmer is expected to stick with the Brandon Wheat Kings next year, having played two games as a callup in October.

The Braves official prospects’ camp is set for July 6 to 8 at Pearkes arena.

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read