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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (

Hayden Long’s third period goal was the game winner as the Saanich Braves won their seventh in a row Friday evening with a 4-2 win over the Victoria Cougars.

Saanich, BC, November 25, 2011 – The Saanich Braves capped off a perfect November by notching their seventh win in a row, a 4-2 win over the league leading Victoria Cougars, on Friday evening at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

IMG 1591Saanich’s Sheldon Trees wins a face-off against Victoria’s Brody Coulter in first period action Friday.

The Cougars, who were defeated by the Braves in their last meeting on October 26th, had every intention of halting the Brave’s streak at six, however that was short lived, as Saanich Captain Ty Jones put a slap shot past a shaky looking Kiefer Giroux, the Cougar’s starting goaltender, just 35 seconds into the game to give the Braves a quick 1-0 lead.

IMG 1603Saanich’s Matt Biagioni carries the puck out of his own end during Friday’s action against Victoria.

The Cougars would recover however, and thanks to a penalty to Saanich’s Sheldon Trees, would get a power play marker by Nathan Chen-Mack to knot the game up at 1-1 with 11:59 remaining.

IMG 1795Victoria’s Brody Coulter would get an assist on both Cougar goals Friday evening.

Victoria would then take the lead with 4:09 remaining, as Steven Rice contributed his sixth goal of the year by converting a nice 2 on 1 pass from Steven Axford, and the Cougars took a 2-1 lead into the break.

In the second period, the Cougars dominated the play in the first half of the period, and despite a 2-man advantage early in the period, and another power play advantage immediately after that, failed to capitalize, as the Braves played sound defence and starting goaltender Tanner McGaw made some big saves to keep his team close.

IMG 1710Saanich’s Ty Jones would continue his torrid scoring streak with 2 goals and an assist in the Braves win over the Cougars.

The solid penalty killing seemed to turn the tide for the Braves, as they began to find their momentum and began to hem the Cougars in their own end during the second half of the period.

This hard work paid off with just over six minutes remaining, as Nick Vanstone pounced on a loose puck in the Cougar end and centered it to Sam Johnston who banged the tying goal through the five-hole of Giroux.

IMG 1801The Cougar’s Jake Nixon carries the puck out of his end during the third period Friday.

In the third period, the teams exchanged chances early and then just under five minutes into the frame, Saanich’s Hayden Long took a feed at the left point and slapped the go-ahead goal past Giroux, who appeared to have fallen or was tripped by his own man as the puck was en route to the net.

IMG 1717Saanich’s Shawn McBride carries the puck into the attacking zone against the Cougars Friday.

The Brave’s McGaw was the story the rest of the way, as he made some big saves in the period to keep the Braves in front, the highlight being a sprawling save in close on a wide open Chen-Mack with just over 5:30 remaining in the period.

The Cougars kept pressing and with just under a minute remaining, pulled their goalie for the extra-man, but Jones would notch his second of the night with an empty netter with 19 seconds remaining to seal the 4-2 win.

IMG 1824Saanich’s Ty Jones pops the puck into the empty net to seal the 4-2 win over the Cougars.

Following the goal, Jones taunted the Cougar bench a bit too much and following the ensuing face-off, a displeased Cougar bumped Saanich goaltender McGaw in the Braves net, sending him sprawling and setting off a line brawl that saw almost 180 minutes in penalties handed out and four players from each team ejected.

IMG 1850Saanich’s Jason Austin wipes away pretend tears as he mocks the Cougar bench following a brawl in the closing moments of Friday’s game.

Saanich goaltender Tanner McGaw and Sheldon Trees celebrate the Braves seventh win in a row after defeating Victoria 4-2 Friday.

With the win, the Braves move just one point back of idle Comox for second overall in the VIJHL and have pulled to within ten points of the league leading Cougars.