By Peter Kung
Victoria (ISN) – Victoria Cougar captain Brody Coulter scored twice, including the game winner in overtime as Victoria came from behind to beat the Kerry Park Islanders 5-4 in VIJHL semi-final action Saturday night. The Cougars now look to close out the series in Game 5 Sunday afternoon.
After the goal, Kerry Park fans littered the ice with debris.
It looked as though the best-of-seven affair would be knotted up at 2-2 but Josh Wyatt’s goal with 14 seconds left to play in regulation would eventually send the game to extra time.
For the most part, the hometown Islanders had Victoria back on its heels during the ten minute overtime period. On three separate occasions, goaltender Evan Roch was seen flopping around trying desperately to get at least one part of his six-foot-two frame in front of the puck.
While at the other end of the ice, Chase Jackson-Puff was getting penalized for hooking Connor Stephens. The penalty, which occurred at 6:17, put the Cougars on their 11th and final powerplay of the night.
Up until then, Victoria was 2-for-10 with the man advantage.
Then exactly one minute and 13 seconds after the Jackson-Puff penalty, Coulter took a pass from Wyatt and snapped it past goalkeeper Matt Chester who was caught out of position.
The Cougars were without the services of all-star defenseman Robert Zadra. The former North Island Silvertips defenseman was suspended for one game after instigating a fight in the last ten minutes of Game 3.
Coulter opened the scoring at 12:15 of the first period. The goal, which was scored on the powerplay, was assisted by Chris Bannister and Steve Axford.
Kerry Park received a scare a minute later when Cole Thomson fell awkwardly into the boards. Finally staggering to his feet, Thomson was helped off the ice by one of the linesmen before getting attended to at the bench. Thomson would return after receiving clearance from the medical staff.
Josh Garneau tied the game on a powerplay when his wrist shot from the point sailed over the right shoulder of Bryce Halverson at 15:01.
Then a huge hit on Coulter along the end boards resulted in a Dayne Ellison goal with eight seconds left in the period.
The score remained 2-1 in favour of the Islanders until the 23 second mark of the second period when again Garneau put the puck past Halverson.
After allowing three goals on ten shots, Halverson was replaced by Roch.
The Cougars pulled to within one on a powerplay goal by Axford at 3:58.
And from that point on, it was all Victoria.
But it would be the Islanders who would score despite getting badly outplayed. At 16:06, Cole Peterson took a breakaway pass from his younger brother Kyle and beat Roch between the wickets.
Wyatt made it 4-3 at the 3:45 mark of the third period before tying it at 19:46 with Roch pulled for an extra attacker.
Victoria outshot Kerry Park 45-26.
Superb in relief, Roch turned aside 15-of-16 shots.
Nathan Chen-Mack and Jake Stolz also had outstanding games for the Cougars.
Game 5 goes Sunday in Victoria. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 3:00 p.m.