After clinching the top spot in the North Division, the Nanaimo Buccaneers geared up to take on the Kerry Park Islanders for the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Despite losing to the Islanders 4–0 on Feb. 9 Buccaneer fans were certain their team was undoubtedly the strongest in the series.
With home ice advantage, Nanaimo hosted the Islanders for game one on Feb. 19 in front of over 300 fans. Garrett Dunlop opened the scoring for the Bucs on the power play and Nanaimo increased their lead to two when Dan Foglietta beat Kerry Park goaltender Jackson Jane. Just a minute later Dunlop scored his second of the game with help from Noah Russi and Beau Blanaru. Nanaimo started the third period with the extra man and just 41 seconds later Lynden Eddy scored the Bucs’ fourth goal after a pretty passing play from Blanaru and Darien Hamilton. Nanaimo went on to win 5–1.
In game two, Kerry Park was expected to come out with fire after being down a game early in the playoffs—it’s what would be expected—but quite the opposite happened. The Islanders came out, for lack of a better word, as flat. There was little momentum in the play and the puck resembled a ping pong ball in the neutral zone.
The first period was dominated by the Buccaneers; however, Kerry Park’s Jane kept his team in the game by allowing only one goal, scored by Lee Orpen after a battle in front of the net. The second period was also unexciting playoff hockey that the fans did not come out to see. Only 15 shots found the net and only Dunlop found the back of it. With a two goal lead, the Bucs started the third period with spunk, controlling the play for the majority of the period and the Islanders proved to be undisciplined with six minor penalties in the frame. Nanaimo took advantage of the extra man and scored two power play goals late in the period for a 4–0 victory.
Kerry Park hoped hosting game three would bring them some puck luck and bounces in their favour for the first time in the series. Will McNamara opened the scoring at 9:01, which shut down the Islanders’ momentum. Trevor Parkhouse would tie the game during a roughing penalty by Dunlop. Just 22 seconds into the second period the Islanders’ David Bittner took a cross checking penalty to once again put the Nanaimo’s dangerous power play to work, and Dunlop scored his fourth goal of the playoffs for a 2–1 lead. Blanaru was able to increase the lead to two with a nice pass from Foglietta.
The Islanders came out of the second intermission finally looking like a playoff team. They took to the ice with energy and emotion, not wanting to be down three games to zero in the series. Their hard work paid off when Corey Peterson scored to make the game 3–2, bringing his team within one goal. With only 52 seconds left Dunlop scored his second goal of the night on an empty Islanders’ net and the Bucs came out with a 4–2 win and a 3–0 lead in the series.
With elimination in the eyes of the Islanders and a four game sweep in the mind of the Buccaneers, game four was set to be an emotional playoff battle. The first period was full of fast-paced playoff hockey, something that had been missing from the first three games. Dunlop opened the scoring for the fourth game in a row, but just three minutes later Parkhouse tied the game at one.
The second period was all Nanaimo, and a frustrated Islanders team found themselves in the penalty box for undisciplined slashing, tripping, and high sticking penalties. Once again Nanaimo took advantage and scored two power play goals, first Orpen and then Dunlop.
Some teams would sit back on a two goal lead so late in the game, but despite having a 3–1 lead the Bucs started the third period to prove they would end the series in the next 20 minutes. Just 26 seconds into the final period Dunlop scored his hat-trick goal. The next goal needed to come from an Islander to give them a slight chance of taking the series to game five, but their hopes came to a crashing hault when Dunlop once again beat the sprawling goaltender for a commanding 5–1 lead. Islanders’ Anthony Gilbert was to beat Cameron Large, but it was too little too late and the Buccaneers defeated Kerry Park four games straight.
The Buccaneers advance to the second round against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. Comox defeated the Oceanside Generals in a four game sweep in their first round. Come out and see which of these two teams is going to suffer their first loss of the playoffs. The schedule for the second round can be found at <www.nanaimobuccaneers.com>.