Now that the Lake Cowichan Kraken have had a taste of winning, it’s become a lot harder to stop them.
The team endured seven straight losses to start its inaugural Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, but the club has been on a roll since then, winning two out of three games in each of the past two weekends. This past weekend’s wins came in very different ways, however, as the Kraken dominated their game on Friday, then watched a big lead disappear on Saturday before they won in overtime.
The Kraken beat the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 5-1 in Lake Cowichan this past Friday, then got by the Port Alberni Bombers 6-7 in overtime in Port Alberni on Saturday before falling 4-1 to the Oceanside Generals in Parksville on Sunday afternoon.
“For the most part, four out of six points is good,” Kraken head coach Dan Whiteford commented. “Any three-game weekend is a tough weekend, especially with two on the road. We’ve just got to get that killer instinct.”
After a scoreless first period on Friday, the Kraken pulled ahead in the second on goals by Anthony Wilson, Bryce Burnett and Colton Carey. Adrian Hebert made it 4-0 at 12:23 of the third before the Glacier Kings were able to break Josh Robins’s shutout bid with just over four minutes remaining. Ryland Semaniuk restored the three-goal lead just 15 seconds after Comox scored.
Wilson, Burnett and Semaniuk all finished with two points, while Robins made 36 saves and two Comox goalies combined to stop 29 of 34 Kraken shots.
“That was a good 60-minute game,” Whiteford assessed. “We had one little lapse in our end, but we probably should have gotten out of there with an egg [shutout].”
Saturday marked the first battle between the VIJHL’s expansion cousins, and it looked for a long time like the Kraken would swim away with an easy victory. Up 6-2 with 14:43 left to play, the Kraken surrendered four straight and needed Julian Rutland’s second goal of the night at 1:25 of overtime to take down the Bombers.
Rutland, captain Donovan Griffin — who was named the North Division’s Player of the Week — and defenceman Carter Anderson each scored twice in Port Alberni, and blueliner Jacob Campbell had a goal and an assist. Robins made 43 saves as the Kraken were outshot 49-41, and the Kraken went 2-for-4 on the powerplay, while holding the Bombers to one goal on eight opportunities.
“We got caught up in watching the scoreboard,” Whiteford said. “And guys wanted to make their mark on the scoresheet — or tried to, anyway — and they got a couple of quick ones and a couple more on the powerplay. Before overtime, we stressed how we wanted to play OT the way we played the first 50 minutes of the game.”
Playing three games in three days for the second straight weekend, the Kraken kept things close with the Generals until the last minute of the game. Griffin opened the scoring with 3:51 left in the second period, but the Generals took command in the third with a shorthanded goal and two powerplay markers, including two in the last minute of play. Goalie Brendan Wilson took the loss in his first VIJHL start in spite of a valiant 30-save effort.
“Brendan played excellent,” Whiteford said. “Realistically, we should have had a win for him, but we fell apart in the last 10 minutes.”
With four wins, eight regulation losses and one shootout loss, the Kraken sit fourth in the North Division. The club will be on the road all this week, visiting Port Alberni on Wednesday, Saanich Friday and Comox on Saturday. After yet another road game on Friday, Oct. 29, the Kraken will be back in Lake Cowichan on Saturday, Oct. 30.