On Sunday night the Nanaimo Timbermen take on the New Westminster Salmonbellies. The Timbermen opened their season Friday night with an 8-7 win over the Burnaby Lakers, while this will be the Salmonbellies first game of the season.
Last year Nanaimo finished with a 6-11-1 record on the season which placed them in second last in the league. Nanaimo also got bad news as last year’s WLA scoring leader Scott Ranger left Nanaimo and signed with Victoria in the off season. Nanaimo also lost forward Cory Conway. The Nanaimo offense this year will be led by Cody Bremner who put up 68 points last year. Around Bremner will be Joel Henry and Cayle Ratcliff. In their first game of the season though it was Blake Kenny and Kyle Hofer stepping up as each notched three points in their season debut. The Timbermen still have a lot of talent on thir team without Ranger and Conway and will be fighting for a playoff spot all year. Nanaimo will need another strong performance out of Zach Boychuk who was stellar in Friday’s win over Burnaby. Boychuk had a 7.00 Goal Against Average (G.A.A) and a .873 save percentage. Nanaimo will want to ride their early season momentum to a quick start against New Westminster and get an early lead.
The Salmonbellies had a disappointing 2012 season as they finished 9-9 and just missed the playoffs. As always the Salmon Bellies offense will revolve around the Gajic brothers Alex and Ilija. The Brothers combined for 99 points last season. The Salmon Bellies though will be without the services of Jeff Zywicki who signed with Coquitlam. The Salmonbellies will be expecting Kevin Crowley and Jordan McBride to step up in his absence. The Salmon Bellies offense is good not great and will be in tough against the top teams such as Langley and Victoria. The Salmon Bellies if they want to have success at all this season will need their goal tending to shape up as that was their Achilles heel last year. The Salmon Bellies will look to Tyler Richards to improve from 2012 where he posted a 8-7 record along with a 8.39 G.A.A and .804 save percentage. The Salmon Bellies are another middle of the pack team and will be challenging for the final playoff spot.
These two teams are very even on paper so it will be interesting to see how the game plays out. Both these teams look to be middle of the pack in the WLA and will be fighting with Burnaby for the final playoff spot all year. Expect this game to come down to the wire.