Even when things are going as well as they are with the Saanich Braves, there’s always room for a little bit more.
The second-place Braves, 17-5-1, are at the Q Centre tonight against the Westshore Wolves.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.
Although the Braves sit a couple wins outside of first place in the South division, they aren’t worried. They have three games in hand on the first-place Victoria Cougars, and all the confidence in the world they can retake first, and then some.
Tonight is the first of a series of games against teams below Saanich in the standings, a time to make ground, said captain Nick Guerra, who leads the league in scoring with 30 goals and another 22 assists in 24 games.
“The Wolves are much harder in their rink, they’ve come off some big wins and we have to take them seriously,” Guerra said.
Friday and Saturday, the Braves play a home-and-home against the Peninsula Panthers starting at Pearkes.
“We’ve talked about it a lot, that in the first part of the schedule we played a lot of games against top teams, we played Victoria [18-6-0] five times already,” Guerra said. “It’s a good time to build separation in the standings.”
In six of the Braves’ eight games in December they’ll face Westshore ( twice, Peninsula three times and Kerry Park once.
And while the offensively gifted Guerra, in particular, has feasted on the Panthers this year, picking up 10 goals and four assists against his North Saanich rivals, there is a lot more depth to the Braves.
This season Braves’ coach-general manager Brad Cook has had one of those “good problems,” with former players looking to return, and other players around B.C.’s junior B circuit happy to come, should they be invited (by trade or other).
Evan Horvath, who played the last three seasons with the Braves, returned to the team from a stint in Europe and has helped establish a second scoring line with Brandon Fushimi and Scott Henderson. Fushimi started with the fourth line when he returned to the Braves but the former Victoria Royals player now has 17 points in 15 games, while Henderson has 21 points and Horvath is a point-per-game though his first nine.
You have to expect returning and new players to show up, and to create a healthy competition for spots in the lineup, Guerra said. It’s something Guerra’s been through at the junior A level, when he was traded away from the Nanaimo Clippers during a winning season.
“Brad’s looking for the right chemistry, and for the most part we have that right chemistry,” Guerra said. “It brings in some more depth and with more forward guys, there is a healthy competition as it’s harder to get in the lineup.”
The team’s newest addition, Eric Tigges, potted three assists in the Braves’ 6-2 win over Kerry Park Islanders on Friday. Tigges came to the team from the 100 Mile House Wranglers, which are second place in their KIJHL division (13-5-3).
Sixteen year old rookie Ted Brennan has also come on lately. Brennan has five points in the last three games.
“He’s much more confident and dangerous since he played as a [recent] call up with the Kelowna Rockets agains the Royals,” Guerra said.
Puck drop Friday is 6:30 p.m. at Pearkes, and then again Saturday night, 7:30 p.m. at Panorama.