Braves face off against Islanders in first round

VIJHL leading scorer Nick Guerra will lead Saanich as they head into Game 1 Wednesday night

Nick Guerra won the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League scoring title with 48 goals and 33 assists.

Nick Guerra won the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League scoring title with 48 goals and 33 assists.

Saanich Braves captain Nick Guerra is headed into the annals of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Guerra won the Doug Morton Trophy as the 2016-17 leading regular season scorer with 81 points.

Guerra nearly led the league in scoring from start to finish with a league leading 48 goals and 33 assists while appearing in 45 of 48 games this season.

“Winning the scoring title wasn’t my main focus but I’m definably happy to win it, and now happy to focus on playoffs,” Guerra said.

The captain is the first Brave to win the VIJHL scoring title since 2011 when Ty Jones tied Steven Axford with 75 points.

This year’s race was close, as Colin Blake of the Campbell River Storm actually overtook the lead partway through the season and eventually finished three points back of Guerra with 34 goals and 44 assists.

The Braves finished the season second in the South division with 29 wins, 15 losses and a tie. The Victoria Cougars won the Andy Hebenton regular season league championship trophy for the eighth straight year with a record of 35-8.

Guerra and the Braves open the first round of the VIJHL playoffs, a best-of-seven series against the Kerry Park Islanders, Wednesday night (7:30) at Pearkes.

The Islanders finished the season with five wins in their last seven games including two wins over the Braves.

“They’ve played us pretty tough lately, they got some good acquisitions at the deadline and they’re hot right now,” Guerra said. “We’re pretty confident in our team, we just need to outwork them. We’re just excited to get going.”

Guerra won two Saanich Braves team awards for the season as leading scorer and MVP. Ted Brennan won Rookie of the Year, with the Top Defenceman award going to Evan Badry. Two players were named the Unsung Hero, goalie Riley Mathieson and forward Scott Henderson, while Gareth Heathcoate won the Coaches Award.

Game 2 against Kerry Park goes Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Pearkes. Game 3 is Saturday and Game 4 Tuesday, both at 7:30 p.m. at Kerry Park Arena.