JUNIOR B: Pink Braves take bite out of Cougars

Life wasn't always rosy for Braves captain Ty Jones, who led his team to victory at Pink in the Rink on Friday

Shawn McBride of the Saanich Braves battles Anthony Bonner of the Victoria Cougars during the annual Pink in the Rink fundraiser at Pearkes Arena

A changed mindset and new approach to hockey is all part of the new Ty Jones.

The Saanich Braves captain had plenty of reasons to be frustrated to start the 2011-12 hockey season, namely getting dropped from the junior A Cowichan Capitals of the B.C. Hockey League.

The Spectrum hockey academy grad was the first star in the Braves 5-3 win over the Victoria Cougars at George Pearkes arena on Friday.

Jones scored two goals. including the game winner, as the Braves rallied from a 3-1 deficit with four straight goals.

It’s the first time the Braves (5-7-3) defeated the Cougars (13-2-1) this season and evens the home-and-home series, which started with a Cougars 5-2 win at Archie Browning arena on Thursday.

Jones was the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League rookie of the year in 2009-10 and was named captain of the Braves by coach Brad Cook shortly after returning to the team this year. It was an easy decision for Cook, who coached the Braves that season before leaving for a stint as an assistant with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies.

But Jones didn’t come to terms with his return to the Island’s junior B hockey league overnight. He started slow in the points column and was ejected from back-to-back games on Sept. 29 and 30.

“It was a rough start. I’m definitely more relaxed, trying to be a leader for the team on the ice and in the room,” Jones said after the Thursday win.

The 18-year-old is the latest example of a local player finding his game after being cut from junior A, an annual occurrence on the junior circuit.

“There was some frustration coming back from Cowichan, but I’m happy being back with the Braves and living at home,” Jones said. “We (were) making too many mental mistakes. Now I just want to see us get some wins, especially in one-goal games.”

The Braves’ story has repeated itself the past few seasons.

A solid program that has developed players such as Wade Murphy, leading scorer of the Victoria Grizzlies, the Braves continually play second fiddle in the win column to local rivals the Cougars and Peninsula Panthers.

“We’re right there, we’ve beat (North Division leaders) Comox and now Victoria,” Cook said. “We’re learning how to win. And some of that is with the returning players, not just the young guys finding their way.”

Player of the week

Also scoring for Saanich in the win over Victoria on Friday was Jack Palmer, Sheldon Trees and Jaden Schmiesser (empty net).

Prior to the weekend Jones was named Island league player of the week for scoring two goals and two assists, while taking zero penalty minutes in two games. The Braves lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Peninsula Panthers on Oct. 19 and won 6-3 over the Campbell River Storm on Oct. 23.

The Braves host the Oceanside Generals at Pearkes arena Friday (Nov. 4) at 6:30 p.m.

sports@vicnews.com

 

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