Braves ice top spot in Midget Classic

Saanich stops Burnaby Winter Club for first-ever Greater Victoria Midget Classic championship

Saanich Braves goalie Connor McKillop sprawls to make the save on Burnaby Winter Club’s Ryan Riggs in a hard-fought tie Saturday at Ian Stewart complex during the annual Greater Victoria Midget Hockey Classic. McKillop earned a shutout in the Braves’ 1-0 overtime win over Burnaby in a gold-medal re-match Sunday at Panorama arena.

The Midget Tier 1 Saanich Braves were golden in a 1-0 overtime win Sunday over the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins.

Panorama arena was filled with fans for the gold medal final of the 14th annual Greater Victoria Midget Classic, co-hosted by the Braves, the Peninsula Eagles and the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies.

The annual tourney, which welcomes some of the top teams in B.C., is a memorial to former Victoria Racquet Club player Jeff Batters, who was drafted by the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. He died in a car crash in 1996.

Batters’ brother Greg presented Braves’ captain Nash Kellett with the trophy, after naming both goalies, Connor McKillop, with the shutout, and Bruin Naveen Kainth, with their teams’ MVP awards.

The Braves fought through scoreless regulation time before Jack Taylor scored the winner from Kellett and Spencer Golden in OT.

“The players played extremely hard all weekend,” said coach Ian Birnie. “It’s a lot of hockey in a short time and even after a serious injury to one of their teammates in the final game, they maintained their poise and responded with a solid team effort.”

Saanich finished first in round-robin play, with wins against the Hollyburn Huskies, Vancouver Thunderbirds and Kelowna Junior Rockets, and a hard-fought 4-4 tie with Burnaby, where forward Thomas Brandwood scored the tying goal with just one second left on the clock.

This is the first time an Island team has won the tourney in about a decade, and the first-ever win for Saanich. Birnie has coached the Braves to an Island title and a B.C. championship berth for the last three years.

 

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