Nanaimo is a city that thrives on hockey.
Most people are unaware of just how much hockey is played on the city’s four sheets of ice. The day begins in the Nanaimo arenas at 5:30 a.m. with minor hockey practices and continues throughout the day and into early the next morning. This city has teams of all ages and levels—from five-year-olds playing initiation to the men playing in the 70+ league.
Nanaimo is proud to be home to two Junior teams and a Major Midget squad made up of kids from all over Vancouver Island. Some have travelled far from home just to represent our city. In a community that is so involved with hockey there was no better way to enjoy a Thanksgiving long weekend than to take in some good ol’ Junior action.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers Jr. B team kicked off the Thanksgiving weekend with a home game against the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Oct. 4. The Buc’s had won both meetings against the Glacier Kings going into the game, and looked to be a tough team to beat. This was also the first game for the Buccaneers’ new start time at 7:15 p.m. instead of their regular time at 7:45 p.m. The puck will drop at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday night home games for the remainder of the season. In the minds of most hockey fans, an earlier start makes for an energetic team and Buccaneers fans were hoping this was the case.
Buc’s goaltender Cameron Large was given the start against his former team and Nanaimo came out strong in the first period, but Comox proved they came to play by taking a 5–0 lead after the first 20 minutes. The Buccaneers made a goaltending change and Riley Medves took Large’s place between the pipes. The lone second period goal was scored at 16:01 by Buccaneers forward Beau Blanaru. Nanaimo opened the third period scoring when Corey Renwick scored his second of the season at 11:58. Although Nanaimo played a strong second half of the game they were unable to close the scoring gap and the Glacier Kings won with a final score of 6–2.
On Friday, Oct. 5 the Buccaneers played their second game in two days, this time on the road against the Saanich Braves. The Braves opened the scoring early in the first period, followed by three more goals and lead 4–0 at the end of the opening frame. The Bucs took hold of the game and scored the only two goals of the second period, the first coming from Derian Hamilton with assists form Garrett Dunlop and Will McNamara at 9:23. The second goal came from the same line on the power play, scored by McNamara and assisted by Dunlop. In the third period, the Braves netted three unanswered goals to take the game 7–2.
The Nanaimo Clippers Jr. A team hosted the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Sunday, Oct. 7 to close out the Thanksgiving weekend just in time for some turkey. Salmon Arm opened the scoring at 11:28 of the first period on the power play, but just over a minute later Kyle Kramer scored for the Clippers and tied the game. Christopher Rygus scored his first goal of the season half way through the second period to give Nanaimo a 2–1 lead. Two minutes into the third, Kevin Miller took a cross-checking penalty and the Silverbacks capitalized on the ensuing power play, tying the game at two apiece.
Back and forth it would go, and the next goal came at 16:59 of the third period by Brendan Forbes to once again give the Clippers the lead. Things were looking good for Nanaimo with 1:38 to go in the period, but Shane Hanna scored for the Silverbacks and the game was once again tied. Going into overtime, the Clippers had outshot the Silverback 63–27.
Nanaimo had a great scoring chance one minute into OT, but the puck was turned over just inside the Silverbacks’ blue line, giving them an odd-man rush the other way. Alex Gillies scored his second goal of the night for Salmon Arm and the Silverbacks headed their trip home with an OT win, despite being outshot in all three periods.