The Victoria Cougars extended their win streak to seven games following a 3-1 victory over the Peninsula Panthers on Thursday night.
Nathan Chen-Mack, Chris Bannister, and Ryan Chan provided the offense while Bryce Halverson, named the game’s first star, made 28 saves.
Replying for Peninsula was Ryan Hunter.
The two teams exchanged early powerplays only to have both Halverson and Panthers’ goalie Zach Wear keep the game scoreless.
However, Wear’s night would come to a screeching halt after an upper body injury forced him out of the game at the 10:47 mark. Injured during a mad scramble in his goal crease, Wear immediately skated off the ice hunched over and holding his arm.
Wear had stopped ten shots before his unexpected exit.
16-year-old Stephen Heslop, an affiliate player on loan from the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies, came on in relief and made 28 saves which included turning aside 16-of-17 shots in the third period.
Heslop was tested early; getting his left pad on Steve Axford’s one-timer.
Panther fans at the Archie Browning Sports Centre thought Tyler Porteous opened the scoring at 11:36 after deflecting in David Stevens’ centering pass. But it was ruled no goal as referee Jordy Davis said that the puck was kicked in.
The score remained knotted at zero until the 11 second mark of the second period when Chen-Mack banged home a Sam Rice rebound.
A minute later, Peninsula came close twice to tying the game. Left all alone in front of the net, Joe Densmore was robbed by Halverson. And then on a powerplay, Jake Bryan hit the goal post.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Panthers as Victoria would go ahead 2-0. At 5:23, Bannister converted a Colin Minardi rebound into a goal. Picking up the second assist was Brody Coulter who had his 18 game point streak come to an end last Friday.
It was Minardi’s first game as a Cougar after the 20-year-old forward was acquired from the Summerland Steam at the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Just under three minutes later, Hunter got Peninsula on the board after gobbling up a loose puck at the side of the net. Assisting on Hunter’s fifth goal of the season were Densmore and Fraser Sutherland.
Hunter’s goal seemed to spark a fire as the Panthers pressed for the tying goal.
Victoria got into trouble when penalties in a span of 19 seconds to Wade Johnson and Rhys Williams put Peninsula on a two man advantage for one minute and 41-seconds. To make matters worse, Robert Zadra closed his hand on the puck and received a delay of game penalty 33 seconds after Williams’ infraction.
Coming closest to scoring was Trevor Yee whose deflection rang off the iron.
The Cougars regained their two goal lead for good at 1:24 of the third period when Chan bulldozed his five-foot-five frame towards the net and in the process knocking it off of its moorings. After discussions with his linesmen, Davis ruled that the puck crossed the goal line before the net was knocked off.
Credited with the only assist was Mark Walton.
Halverson, facing his eighth shot of the period and final shot of the game, denied Porteous with his right pad with 80 seconds remaining.
Penalties to Brock Dodsworth and Sutherland in the final 61 seconds squashed any chances of a Peninsula comeback. And at the end of the game, Porteous was issued a ten minute misconduct.
With the win, Victoria improves to 27-5-0-1 and has won its last ten games at the A.B.S.C.
The Panthers fall to 13-14-0-2.
Next game for Victoria is Saturday, January 14 against the Kerry Park Islanders. Game time at the Kerry Park Recreation Centre, located at 1035 Shawnigan Mill Bay Road, is 7:30 p.m.
1st star, Bryce Halverson (Saves: 28, Save Percentage: .966)
2nd star, Ryan Chan (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Stephen Heslop (Saves: 28, Save Percentage: .903)