Kerry Park Islanders head coach Aaron Spotts was hesitant to call his team’s 3-1 win at home over the Saanich Braves on Tuesday night their best game of the first-round playoff series, but he acknowledged it was a big one.
“It was definitely the most complete game we’ve played for a full 60 minutes,” Spotts said after the Isles kept their postseason hopes alive.
The Braves still hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series, but Tuesday’s result made sure the Isles would get to play another day.
“I thought it was a good, gutsy effort, for sure,” Spotts said. “We were maybe a little timid for the first few minutes, but I thought we got better as the game went on.”
Kerry Park goalie Rett Rook was outstanding as he stopped 31 of 32 shots, and the Isles also killed off eight Saanich powerplays.
“I think we were a lot better in our defensive coverage,” Spotts said. “We limited their time and space. Our penalty kill stepped up, and Rett played well for us; he definitely gave us a chance to win.”
After a scoreless first period, Cole Amado and Brandon McClintick put the Isles up by two in the second. The Braves got one back with six and a half minutes left in the third, but the Isles didn’t have time to worry about it as Tanner Tiel restored the two-goal lead just 30 seconds later.
“The goal by Tanner Tiel was big,” Spotts said. “We had a good feeling after that. I think it deflated them a little bit.”
The teams will meet again for game six at George Pearkes Arena on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We have to go in there and play a bit desperate, I guess, and make sure our season doesn’t end on Friday,” Spotts said. “Our fate is in our control. We need to execute and be excited for the challenge.”
If the Isles win on Friday, game seven will take place at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.