Sooke’s Ryan Litoski

Gibb outstanding in midget win

Sooke gains decisive win in opener of three game series

Doni Eve and Jim SinclairSooke Midget A Thunderbird boys started strong and kept up the domination of Juan de Fuca Grizzlies in the first game of the best of three round robin final last Saturday at the SEAPARC Arena. In one of his best performances ever, Brandon Gibb’s work in goal kept JDF off the board until midway through the second period. Despite Sooke playing shorthanded for much of the second and third periods, JDF was only able to get one more goal past Gibb.Sooke’s offence also started strong, and kept up the pace throughout the game. Zach Lafontaine scored the first goal early in the first, assisted by Derek McDougall and Zack Tucker. Then Jesse Burrows scored off a pass from Sasha Perron and Jordan Barber. Ryan Litoski got Sooke’s third goal of the first period from Lafontaine and McDougall.In the second period, Clay McClimon got a goal from Litoski, then he scored again early in the third, assisted by Bradon Senft. When JDF got a power play opportunity, Barber grabbed the puck from Litoski and scored shorthanded. Cole Navarrete got Sooke’s seventh goal, assisted by Nick Pfeifer.In a bizarre incident near the end of the game, a JDF player picked up Zack Tucker’s stick and took it to his own bench. After a few minutes the stick was found on the JDF bench, and they received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the action.Sooke won the game 7-2. Game two of the best of three final for Vancouver Island, and a trip to provincials, takes place next Saturday, March 5, 9:30 a.m. at Bear Mountain arena.“They were a better team right from the opening face off,” said JDF coach Rob Lervold. “We didn’t get our legs under us until later in the game. We were a little bit soft at the start and couldn’t get back in the game.” Lervold stated a better start will be a priority in the next game.”Failure to capitalize on numerous powerplays hurt the visitors, and that subject was addressed by Sooke coach Ken Radcliffe.“I don’t know if it’s good or bad… but on a bad note we’ve been doing a lot of penalty killing this year,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of practice at it and it’s become a strength.”Radcliffe indicated his team was ready.“We had some time to prepare,” he related. “They beat us in the round robin game, our only loss in the last 16 games so we were very hungry to get that one back.”With 44 saves Gibb was a key factor. “The first part of the game it’s important to feel the puck and get your confidence,” he said outside the dressing room following the win. “I felt like I did have that. Most of the time after you make the first few saves you get really focused into the game. The defense was clearing the guys in front.”

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