Saanich Braves off to hot start in 45th year

It's been 16 years since the Saanich Braves last won the Island’s junior B title but there's plenty to celebrate

Artist Lucas Bell designed the Saanich Braves 45th anniversary logo

Artist Lucas Bell designed the Saanich Braves 45th anniversary logo

It may have been 16 years since the Saanich Braves last won the Island’s junior B title, but there are plenty of championships and players to celebrate this season as the team turns 45.

Current owners Ed Geric and Norm Kelly are leading the 45th anniversary celebration for the Braves, which started playing junior hockey in 1967, with a number of promotions.

One of the moves the Braves did was to hire artist Lucas Bell to design a 45th anniversary logo. Lucas’ brother Chris is a former captain of the team and last winter Lucas designed the Braves’ VIJHL all-star logo.

“We want to embrace the community and are welcoming Braves alumni back. This team has been around for a long time and a lot of great people have come through here,” Kelly said.

The Braves most notable alumnus is Adam Cracknell, who played for the 2010-11 St. Louis Blues and was captain of the Blues’ AHL affiliate Peoria Rivermen last year.

Recent pros and NCAA players who came through the Braves in the last decade are Lee Baldwin of the New York Rangers AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale, and Brian Nugent of the NCAA’s Northern Michigan University. Both suited up for the 2009 RBC Cup hosting Victoria Grizzlies. The Crowder brothers Paul and Tim also wore the Braves crest before hockey took them to the NCAA, ECHL, AHL and Europe. Both played under former Braves coach Dick Crowder, their dad.

“We’ve always got a guy moving up to to junior A or the WHL,” Kelly said. “And we’re off to a great start this season. The stands are full and I don’t know if that’s because we’re winning, but we’ve got a great team right now.”

It can’t hurt that the first 45 fans at last Friday’s game, an 8-0 win over the Kerry Park Islanders, were treated to a coupon for a free Subway sandwich.

It was the Braves third win in three nights, with a 5-2 win over the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday and 5-2 win over the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Thursday.

“Friday was a great showing, the score aside, no matter who we were playing we were responsible and competed really hard,” Braves head coach Brad Cook said.

“This year the maturity is showing for us. Last year we lost eight one-goal games, but we got the core group back who learned how to win those close games and so far we’ve been able to grind them out,” Cook said.

The Braves’ season continues on Friday when members of the Canadian national rugby team, which will suit up for the Americas Rugby Championship in Langford in two weeks, will be on hand to drop the puck, 6:30 p.m. at Pearkes arena versus the Buccaneers.

Braves history

The Braves are steeped in the legacy of the league. From 1978 to 1996, the Braves won six Brent Patterson Memorial trophies as the top team in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. The trophy, however, wasn’t renamed in Patterson’s honour until later. A former Braves player, Patterson was the VIJHL MVP in 1977. He died shortly after leaving a game at the 1977 Cyclone Taylor Cup in Quesnel from heart complications.

sports@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read