Cougars Calm the Storm

161

Peter Kung

The Victoria Cougars tied a season high for goals on Thursday.

Josh Wyatt, Steve Axford, and Sam Rice recorded four points apiece as Victoria used a five-goal second period to beat the visiting Campbell River Storm 9-4.

The last time the Cougars (20-4-1) scored nine goals was back on Sep. 8 in their season opener against the Oceanside Generals.

Victoria led 2-1 after one period and 7-1 after two.

Connor Stephens opened the floodgates at 5:46 of the second period after taking a centering pass from Axford and burying the puck behind Nick Babich.

An altercation between Mark Walton and Babich eight minutes later resulted in referee Jeff Eden assessing the Cougars’ forward an extra penalty. The extra two minutes to Walton came as a blessing in disguise because at 14:36, Wyatt broke free on a shorthanded breakaway and twinkled the twine for his first of two goals.

Then at 16:01, Ryan Parmar blasted a point shot past Babich to give Victoria a 5-1 lead.

After the goal, Andy Salazar was called upon to mop up but was relegated back to the bench after allowing two goals on three shots.

Chase Haley was sent to the sin bin 36 seconds after Parmar’s goal. During the powerplay, Axford rang the puck off the goal post. However, Axford found redemption seconds later by scoring at 17:03.

A shoving match late in the period behind the Victoria net between Robert Zadra and Davis Sprukts resulted in Jesse Spooner charging in from the blue line and grabbing and punching the Cougars’ defenseman. Holding his own, Zadra landed a few shots of his own against the rough-and-tumble Spooner.

After the dust settled, Spooner received a penalty for being the instigator, a major for fighting, and a game misconduct. Zadra was assessed a roughing penalty, a fighting major, and a game misconduct while Sprukts received a penalty for roughing.

Salazar’s night came to an abrupt end when Axford scored with 16.2 seconds remaining in the period.

Campbell River (7-16-1) cut the lead to 7-2 after Sprukts beat Evan Roch from the slot at 2:36 of the final frame. Exactly three minutes later, Wyatt broke in on another breakaway and this time lifted a backhander over Babich for the Cougars eighth goal.

A goal mouth scramble resulted in Josh Cook scoring his fourth goal of the season. Then at 10:53, on a powerplay, Brett Willsie cut the lead in half.

Chris Bannister closed out the scoring with a powerplay goal of his own at 15:28.

Victoria was again without head coach Mark Van Helvoirt who was serving the second of a four game suspension. Behind the bench calling the plays were Suneil Karod and Thomas Kala.

Victoria opened the scoring at 3:47 of the first period. During an odd man rush, Brody Coulter fed the puck over to Will McNamara, one of two call-ups, for his first goal of his junior career.

Ten minutes later, Dane Feeney cut in from the wing and beat Roch from the slot to tie the game.

Walton restored the Cougars lead for good at 15:38 after catching Babich leaning the wrong way.

Due to a rash of injuries and suspensions, Rice was used on the blue line for the second consecutive game. The natural forward responded with four assists.

Victoria went 2-for-7 on the powerplay while the Storm went 1-for-6.

Roch stopped 24 shots to improve to 9-2-0 on the season.

Taking the loss was Babich who made 24 saves in 56 minutes and one-second of work.

Jesse Nixon, the other Cougars call-up, picked up an assist on Wyatt’s second goal.

Next game for Victoria is Saturday, December 3 against the Oceanside Generals. Game time at Oceanside Place, located at 830 West Island Highway, is 7:30 p.m.

THREE STARS:

1st star, Josh Wyatt (Goals: 2, Assists: 2)

2nd star, Steve Axford (Goals: 2, Assists: 2)

3rd star, Jake Stolz (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)

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