Friday is the annual pink in the rink game for the Saanich Braves, and it’s a night the Island’s second place junior B team does not take lightly.
The Braves (12-3) host the Westshore Wolves (10-7) at Pearkes arena. There’ll be no problem finding motivation for the Braves. Not only is it breast cancer fundraiser night, it’s the first rematch since the Wolves shutout Braves 3-0 at Pearkes on Oct. 12.
“Goalie Alec Dhillon stood on his head that night and changed the momentum of the game,” said Braves coach Brad Cook.
“We started doing things out of character, which can happen on nights like that.”
The Braves bounced back from that game, which was only their second loss of the season, with a win. The Braves lost their next game to the Victoria Cougars, but have since won three straight, two against the Kerry Park Islanders and one against the Peninsula Panthers.
And now the Braves hope to make it four in a row with the expansion Wolves visiting.
“It comes down to playing a more structured game and limiting the Wolves’ chances. It could very likely be a goaltending duel,” Cook said.
Likely starting for the Braves is Tanner McGaw, who has 10 wins in 12 games. McGaw, a former Victoria Grizzlies tender, owns the league’s best save percentage of .928, and has the second best goals against average of 2.21 per game.
Defensively the Braves are still in a fix. Forward Andrew White has done an admirable job since moving to into the defensive core against the Oceanside Generals on Oct. 13. Cook said White will stay on the blue line until injured D-men Liam Sproule and Garrett Kemmler are healthy.
“Not having Sproule and Kemmler is a big blow to this club. We’ve used seven different affiliate players already and it’s still October.”
No surprise to anyone is the play of captain Ty Jones, last year’s MVP. Jones centres the top line with returnee Shawn McBride on his left and Josh Gray on his right.
Gray is new to the Braves this season, a displaced Kootenay junior B player who finished last year with the Texas Brahmas in the junior B Western States Hockey League. The 20-year-old scored seven goals and 10 assists in 14 games with the Brahmas, and has 15 goals in 15 games this year.
“He’s blessed with a rocket of a shot and he’s a big strong kid who can destroy people out there,” Cook said.
Game time for pink in the rink is 6:30 p.m. Friday at Pearkes.