The Nanaimo Buccaneers proved they can win the close games as well on Saturday, beating the Kerry Park Islanders 3-1. With the win, the Buccaneers improved to 7-0-0-0 to start their second season in the Vancouver Island Junior B Hockey League.
Chad Bell scored twice for the Bucs while Derian Hamilton potted the empty netter and Ryan Waldhaus made 20 saves for his fifth win of the season.
Corey Peterson replied for Kerry Park (1-5-0-1) and Jackson Lane was solid in making 32 saves to keep the Islanders in the game.
Buccaneers head coach Brad Knight was pleased with the way his team responded to a tough challenge.
"Kerry Park played us very, very hard and the thing I liked about it is we didn't necessarily panic, we just skated with them," said Buccaneers head coach Brad Knight.
Nanaimo has outscored opponents 36-11, leading the VIJHL in both statistics, and this was just their second two-goal game of the campaign.
Key to their victory in this one was the play of Waldhaus, who has been outstanding through the stretch.
In his five starts, he has allowed just four goals, carrying a microscopic 0.80 goals against average and an impressive 0.969 save percentage.
Still, Knight is not about to declare him the No. 1 goalie, with Alex Mastrodonato sitting behind him.
"You have to remember he took last season completely off other than playing two periods playing with us," said Knight.
"I thought I'd just give him some game time and then we'll back off a little bit and go back to Mastrodonato as well. We're confident in both."
Still, there is room for improvement for the Buccaneers. They are still prone to defensive breakdowns in their own end.
Knight is fully aware their schedule is about to get a lot tougher; this includes Thursday's game at the Nanaimo Ice Centre against the Saanich Braves (3-3-0-0) at 7:15 p.m.
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