Westshore Wolves forward Cory Hatcher does his best to control the puck during Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff action against the Saanich Braves at The Q Centre. The teams

Junior B Westshore Wolves, Saanich Braves in dogfight

Teams tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Wednesday at The Q Centre

The precursor to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League series between the Westshore Wolves and Saanich Braves offered good foreshadowing to the best-of-seven affair.

The Wolves’ one-goal victory back on Feb. 13 at Pearkes Recreation Centre gave a good indication how close the series would be.

Having split the first four games of the series, the teams head into game 5 Wednesday night (Feb. 25) at The Q Centre. Saanich won last night’s battle at Pearkes Recreation Centre, 6-5 in overtime, after trailing 5-1 in the second period.

Hunter Atchison, who set up Nick Kean for the tying goal with two seconds left in regulation time, bagged the winner 5:50 into overtime to pull the Braves even in the series.

The Wolves, who outshot Saanich 41-28 – it was the third game in which they’ve widely outgunned their opponent – led 3-0 after one period on goals by James Severs, Quentin McShane and Dylan Grant, whose goal chased Braves starter Brandon Ward from the net in place of backup Riley Mathieson. The visitors took a 4-0 early in the second on a goal from Spencer Preece.

Evan Horvath sandwiched two goals for the Braves around a Westshore marker from Kayle Ramsay. Leading 5-2 and enjoying a 29-10 edge in shots after two periods, it looked like the Wolves would cruise to victory.

But Jr. B hockey being the unpredictable game it is, the Braves roared back with three unanswered goals in the third from Jack Rachwalski, Dayne Ellison and Atchison.

Game 3 the night before in Colwood needed a second overtime period for Westshore to win 3-2. In that game, Jordan Martin bagged the winner from Adam Page in the second extra frame, when the teams had played 16:44 of additional time.

The Wolves’ Grant had forced overtime when he scored a power play marker with 2:22 left in regulation, finishing off a passing play from Corey Peterson and goalie Chris Smith.

Rachwalski gave the Braves a 2-1 lead 9:37 into the third. The teams were tied 1-1 after one period, with Saanich’s Atchison and Westshore’s Christian Brandt trading goals.

The visitors kept Saanich goalie Ward on his toes all game, firing a total of 50 shots on him, while Smith stopped 23 of 25 shots overall.

Last Friday’s game, won 7-3 at Pearkes by Westshore, saw James Severs lead the Wolves’ attack with three goals, while singles went to Connor Krupa, Spencer Preece, Nicholas Polomark and Rylan Ball.

Saanich won the series opener 4-1 at The Q Centre. Brandt gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead after one, but the Braves scored twice in the second and third to put the game away, despite being outshot 40-26. Ward picked up the win in net while Ben Meek, Quinn Miller, Kean and Jordan Parmar scored for Saanich.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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