The Saanich Braves finished the month of December the way they had hoped, with a four-game win streak.
It’s a turnaround from the beginning of the month, when the Braves dropped four straight.
The Braves enter the final 15 games of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season in second place with 21 wins, nine losses and one tie, for a total of 45 points, four points back of the Victoria Cougars (23-8).
Forward Brandon Fushimi was absent from the losing streak as he picked up an automatic three-game suspension for a game misconduct in the last 10 minutes of the 4-3 overtime loss to the Peninsula Panthers on Dec. 2.
Fushimi, a former WHLer with the Victoria Royals, has been an important part of the Braves with 20 points in his last 10 games.
The Braves connection with the Royals grew one player stronger as the Royals signed Braves’ goaltender Riley Mathieson to a standard agreement.
Mathieson, of Port Hardy, will serve as a third option behind Royals starter Griffen Outhouse and backup Dylan Myskiw. Mathieson, 19, has a 3.25 goals against average and .902 save percentage with the Braves this year. He was a late cut from the BCHL Vernon Vipers to start the season.
“Adding depth at the goaltending position with a local prospect is a fit for us, as well as a good opportunity for the player,” said Royals general manager Cam Hope.
The Braves started December with the Dec. 2 overtime loss to the Panthers and then dropped a 3-1 loss to the Panthers the next night. It turned into the team’s worst losing streak of the season with a 3-2 loss to Kerry Park Islanders on Dec. 7 and a 4-2 loss to the Westshore Wolves on Dec. 9. Then came a righting of the ship, as the Braves reeled off four straight wins from Dec. 11 to 23, 3-2 over the Islanders, 9-3 over the Panthers, 4-2 over the Nanaimo Buccaneers and 6-3 over the Wolves.
Captain Nick Guerra continues to lead the league in scoring with 33 goals and 24 assists in 30 games.
Next for the Braves is a Jan. 3 visit to Comox agains the Glacier Kings (17-12-1). Hockey comes back to Pearkes on Jan. 6 when the Cougars visit, 6:30 p.m.
It’s the sixth meeting of the season between the Braves and first-place Cougars. The Braves won the last three meetings, though the Cougars won the first two meetings of the year.