The Comox Valley Glacier Kings logo. (supplied by the Comox Valley Glacier Kings)
COURTENAY, B.C. – The Comox Valley Glacier Kings locked it down last weekend.
And it resulted in their first regular season win of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season.
Going into the weekend, Courtenay’s junior squad had surrendered 121 goals in 20 games, an average of just over six goals against per outing.
That all changed on Friday and Saturday.
Friday night at Parksville’s Oceanside Place, the Kings scored twice in the middle frame and then held on for a 2-1 victory over the Oceanside Generals.
And the next night in Courtenay, the Glacier Kings only gave up one goal but couldn’t find the net at the other end during a 1-0 loss to the visiting Nanaimo Buccaneers.
Glacier Kings head coach Jordan Kamprath said the adage that ‘practice makes perfect’ applied to the weekend.
“During the week we practised really hard in our defensive zone and getting the puck out cleanly and if we don’t get it out cleanly with the pass, to make sure we go high and hard off the glass,” Kamprath said. “And just battling harder on our half wall and making sure the puck goes out. It’s something we have been struggling with, and we pretty much focused on its 75 percent of the time in practice this past week.”
Glacier Kings 2, Oceanside Generals 1
Second period goals from Damian Rennie and Finn Withey was all the visitors needed to come away with their first regulation victory of the season.
Comox Valley goaltender Matthias Smith stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period to help the Glacier Kings eke out the win.
Smith was a stalwart throughout, stopping 41 shots. The Generals outshot the Glacier Kings 42-23, including 20-8 in the middle frame.
But Kamprath stressed that Smith was helped by strong team defence.
“Obviously goaltending is a huge factor but even with the shots against, a lot of them were from the outside and that gives (Smith) a better opportunity to see and stop the puck,” he said.
Nanaimo Buccaneers 1, Glacier Kings 0
Defence also ruled the night Saturday at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, but unfortunately for the Glacier Kings, they couldn’t find the net as Nanaimo came away with a one-goal victory.
The Buccaneers’ Joshua Zary’s goal 5:22 into the middle frame stood up as the game winner.
Aided by three power play opportunities, the Glacier Kings outshot the Buccaneers 16-5 in the second period.
But Nanaimo’s penalty kill was on point. The Glacier Kings were unable to cash in on eight man advantage opportunities.
The Glacier Kings are now 1-19-1-1 and will look to build on last weekend when they travel to the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Thursday for a rematch against the Buccaneers.
Kamprath said the players are shedding what he describes as the “midget mentality” towards the game.
“These young players, the 16, 17-year-olds are starting to get a lot more comfortable playing at this higher level and playing with the older guys. They’re making better plays and smarter plays,” he said. “The best offence is good defence. You stop (the puck) at our end, it’ll get down to the other side and eventually you are going to score goals.”