The Nanaimo Buccaneers put up a valiant effort, but their season came to a disappointing end on Friday, February 28. The Buccaneers lost their seven game first round series against the Campbell River Storm four games to two.
The series got underway on Wednesday, February 19 at Strathcona Gardens in Campbell River, and the Buccaneers were off to a strong start. Shane Dial gave the Buccaneers the lead late in the first period. A powerplay goal by Michael Olson early in the second tied the game for the Storm, but Garrett Brandsma responded with a powerplay marker of his own to put the Buccaneers back out in front 2-1. David Osbourne and Jonathan Speer added goals in the third period to give Nanaimo the 4-1 victory in game one. Jackson Jane picked up the win for the Buccaneers, making 43 saves as the final shots favoured Campbell River 44-27.
The teams were back in action the next night in Nanaimo for game two. The game stayed scoreless until the last five minutes of the second period, when two powerplay goals by the Storm less than two minutes apart gave Campbell River a 2-0 lead heading into the third. Early in the third period, Campbell River put the game out of reach, as league MVP Brendan DeVries scored his second of the game to put the Storm up 3-0. Campbell River added another powerplay goal late in the game to win game two 4-0. Jack Surgenor recorded the shutout for Campbell River. Final shots in the game were 28-27 in favour of Campbell River.
On Friday, February 21, the two teams squared off in game three. Campbell River continued their strong play from game two and opened the scoring 1:07 into the game with a goal by DeVries. Nanaimo tied the game before the end of the third period on a goal by Mikko Keski-Pukkila. The game remained tied until late in the second period when the Campbell River powerplay struck again. Powerplay goals by Michael Olson and Gage Colpron just a couple minutes apart gave Campbell River a 3-1 lead. The Storm added two more goals in the third period to take game three 5-1.
Game four was scheduled for Sunday, February 23 in Nanaimo, but the game was postponed due to a snow storm and was made up on Wednesday, February 26. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the make-up game was played in Campbell River instead of Nanaimo. Campbell River got off to another hot start once the puck dropped. Just like in game three, the Storm opened the scoring early. This time it was Alex Brewer opening the scoring a minute into the game. Campbell River added two more goals, and Jonathan Speer added one for Nanaimo, making the score 3-1 for Campbell River all before the game was five minutes old. Brayden Taekema’s first goal of the series at 9:46 of the first gave the Storm a 4-1 lead in the first period. The Buccaneers were the better team in the game’s final 50 minutes, but they could only get one more puck past Storm goaltender Jack Surgenor, who made 50 saves on 52 shots in the victory. Campbell River picked up the 4-2 win and 3-1 lead in the best of seven series.
Facing elimination in game five, the Buccaneers continued their strong play from game four. Jonathan Speer opened the scoring 3:32 into the first period to give Nanaimo their first lead since game one. The game stayed 1-0 until Garrett Dunlop fired a slapshot past Surgenor just past the midway point of the second period. A powerplay goal by Jake Calverley in the last minute of the second period gave the Buccaneers a 3-0 lead heading into the third period. Two quick powerplay goals by Campbell River late in the third period made the game close, but an empty netter by Thor Rosbeck sealed a 4-2 win for the Buccaneers.
The series moved back to Campbell River for game six on Friday, February 28. With the Buccaneers once again facing elimination, it was the Storm that opened the scoring on a goal by Jordan Rauser midway through the first. With Nanaimo trying desperately to tie the game in the second period, Campbell River’s potent offense struck again, scoring two goals 89 seconds apart at the midway point of the second period to give Campbell River the 3-0 lead. Campbell River held on to win the game 3-0 and take the series 4-2.
The Buccaneers will look to rebound from a disappointing end to this season as the team prepares for its third season in the VIJHL. Nanaimo has the potential to be a veteran team next season, as 18 players are eligible to return to the team next season, including leading scorers Garrett Dunlop and Will McNamara.
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