Chris Bannister scored twice and added an assist to help propel the Victoria Cougars past the Saanich Braves 5-2 on Thursday night.
Victoria (32-5-0-1) has now won twelve straight games and twelve in a row at the Archie Browning Sports Centre.
Also scoring for the Cougars, which answered back with four unanswered goals, were Steve Axford, Connor Stephens, and Graham Zagrodney.
Ty Jones and Nickolas Vanstone replied for Saanich (18-15-0-4).
The Braves opened the scoring at 1:27 after Jones hammered home a backdoor pass.
Then at 3:57, Axford skated in on a partial breakaway and beat goalie Tanner McGaw through the wickets.
Saanich, on the powerplay, regained the lead with just under a minute to play after Vanstone’s pass from behind the net bounced off a Cougars defender and in.
From thereon in, Bryce Halverson shut the door to win his ninth game in as many starts.
Victoria tied the game at 9:34 on the powerplay after Brody Coulter set up Bannister with a beautiful pass. Stephens then scored the go ahead goal after picking the top corner of the net with a one timer from the slot at 15:29.
The Braves had a golden opportunity to improve on their position in the standings after the Comox Valley Glacier Kings lost 5-2 to the Kerry Park Islanders. With nothing changed, Saanich still trails the No. 2 seed Glacier Kings by a mere point. Both teams have five games remaining which include a Feb. 18 showdown in Comox Valley.
Zagrodney gave the Cougars some additional insurance at 3:16 of the third period. With another assist, Coulter has moved into a tie for first place along with Jones in the VIJHL points race.
Then with less than a second remaining, Bannister sealed the deal with an empty net goal.
Victoria has not lost at home since Oct. 20.
Both teams went 1-for-4 on the powerplay.
Shots on goal were 28 apiece.
Next game for the Cougars is Thursday, February 9 against the Oceanside Generals. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:15 p.m.
1st star, Robert Zadra (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Chris Bannister (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Connor Stephens (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)