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6 points for Bergman, 3 points for Lake Cowichan Kraken

Fan favourite comes up big in pair of road games
Kraken forward Richard Bergman keeps an eye on a Nanaimo Buccaneers forward during a home game earlier this season. (Gazette file)

Fan favourite Richard Bergman had six points in two games last week as the Lake Cowichan Kraken picked up three points in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League standings.

The hometown hero scored twice and added two assists in a 6-2 win over the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Thursday, then had two more goals in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Oceanside Generals on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the Kraken faithful didn’t get to witness Bergman’s heroics as both games were played on the road, but it won’t affect his popularity in Lake Cowichan.

“I’m sure he’ll be up for mayor as soon as he’s of age,” Kraken head coach Dan Whiteford said with a laugh. “He’s been a good guy for us.”

Following last week’s offensive explosion, Bergman sits sixth in team scoring with 17 points on nine goals and eight helpers in 32 games. More important to Whiteford, the 16-year-old is a coach’s dream. Whiteford doesn’t expect that Bergman will spend much time in the junior B ranks and is destined for higher levels.

“He pays attention,” Whiteford said. “When you want him to do something different in his game, you can see him go out there and at least try.”

The versatile Bergman has played throughout the Kraken’s top three lines, at centre and on the wing, and on both the powerplay and penalty kill.

“He gets put out there in those situations because we have the confidence for him to go out in those situations,” Whiteford noted.

Bergman scored twice in the third period last Thursday as the Kraken came back from a first-period deficit to sink the Buccaneers. Bryce Burnett opened the scoring midway through the first, but the Bucs came back to lead 2-1 before intermission. Mitch Billings made it 2-2 with a powerplay goal in the second, and it was all Kraken in the third. In addition to Bergman’s pair, Lake Cowichan got one from Rowan Zapisocki and another from Donovan Griffin, with Griffin’s goal coming just two and a half minutes after he was foiled on a penalty shot.

Griffin finished the night with a goal and two assists, and Billings had a goal and one helper. Josh Robins made 33 saves as the Kraken outshot the Bucs 39-35.

“We started out really well in the first 10 minutes, but in the last 10 minutes of the first period, we kinda got away from what was making us successful,” Whiteford said of Thursday’s game. “In the third period, it opened up a bit. They played the way they should play every game. You get rewarded when you do the right things.

On Saturday, the Kraken held a 3-1 lead going into the third period on two goals by Bergman and one by Bryce Burnett. Oceanside got one back early in the third, but Zapisocki restored the two-goal edge. The Generals got two goals from Miles Carson at 16:18 and 17:46 to tie it, then won it just eight seconds into overtime. Robins finished with 40 saves as the Kraken were outshot 45-29.

“We had two guys blow tires trying to defend the puck [in overtime], so it was essentially a 3-on-1,” Whiteford related. “We got a point, which is important in the playoff race. I thought we played well enough that we deserved two points, but that’s hockey.”

The Kraken have two more games before Christmas break: in Nanaimo on Thursday, and at home on Friday against the Port Alberni Bombers at 7:30 p.m. Those will be the team’s last games until Jan. 9.