The final playoff spot in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) has come down to a best-of-three battle between the league’s two newest teams.
The Port Alberni Bombers picked up the first win in the series on Tuesday, Feb. 15 with an 8-0 shutout as the Lake Cowichan Kraken visited the Alberni Valley Multiplex. The Bombers got off to an early lead with a goal from Brady McIsaac just 22 seconds into the game. Bombers forward Gavin Mastrodonato added another at the end of the first period.
The goals kept coming in the second and third periods, with Hunter Harwood, Justin Osborne, Grayson Erickson and Carson Steel adding markers for the home team. Mastrodonato and McIsaac both scored twice in the game.
Port Alberni goaltender Callum Tung made 29 saves in the win.
The Bombers and the Kraken are scheduled to play three games against each other this week. Whichever team wins two out of three will be headed to the playoffs.
“We’re excited for our club to be in the mix for a playoff spot,” said Port Alberni Bombers president David Michaud before Tuesday’s game. “It’s fun that it’s coming down to the two expansion teams as well.”
The Bombers’ first season in the VIJHL has had its share of challenges, from COVID-19 to injuries to players moving up to Junior A.
“I’m excited that our players will have the chance to compete for something meaningful against a good team,” said Michaud. “This week will be a challenge for us, but I know our staff and players are excited for the opportunity.”
The Bombers will be headed to Nanaimo on Thursday (Feb. 17) for a game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers. Then they will head to Lake Cowichan for the final two games of the series on Friday night (Feb. 18) and Sunday evening (Feb. 20).