By Peter Kung
September 25, 2012, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Cougars (6-0-1) will play host the Peninsula Panthers (3-3-0) for the second time in a week this Thursday. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
Last Thursday, Victoria beat the visiting Panthers 6-2 in the first of eight regular season meetings between the two long-time divisional rivals. Sam Rice, who sits atop of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League leader board with 23 points, had one goal and three assists in that game. Sitting three points behind Rice in sole possession of second place is Brody Coulter who had a three point night against Peninsula. Victoria outshot the Panthers 39-21 which included outshooting them by a margin of 22-6 in the third period alone. Josh Adkins and Spencer Loverock replied for Peninsula.
Entering Thursday night’s game, the Cougars look to snap a one game losing streak. After six straight wins to start the season, Victoria dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings last Saturday. The Cougars managed to salvage a point when Ben Kinshella scored with 1.7 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. Also scoring for Victoria was Dane Feeney and Coulter. Michael Herringer got the start in net for the Cougars and made 19-of-22 saves in a losing cause.
In addition to Rice and Coulter leading the way, Victoria has four other players ranked in the top ten in league scoring. Feeney is currently third with 16 points, Garrett Brandsma is tied for fifth with nine points, and Nathan Chen-Mack and Rhys Williams share eighth spot with eight points apiece.
The Cougars boast a powerful offense that has scored 43 goals and a stingy defense that has allowed only 17 goals against through seven games. Special teams have also played a key role in Victoria’s success. Its power play is 21-for-49 while its penalty kill is 29-for-32; both league highs.
Peninsula is a young team which features more rookies than veterans. Returnees who have more than eight games experience include Cody Allison, Dane Gibson, Logan Gibson, and Grayson Vickers. Ranked fifth alongside the Oceanside Generals, Nanaimo Buccaneers, and Comox Valley, the Panthers are scoring on average three goals per game. Their defense is also ranked fifth in the nine-team VIJHL; allowing on average 3.3 goals per game. Cole Glover leads Peninsula with three goals and four assists through six games. The Panthers are 0-3-0 on the road while 3-0-0 at home.
STANDINGS: Victoria – 1st place, 13 points, South Island Division. Peninsula – T3 place, 6 points, South Island Division
TEAM LEADERS: Victoria – Brody Coulter, 8 goals; Sam Rice, 20 assists; Wade Johnson, 33 penalty minutes. Peninsula – Cole Glover, Zack Smith, 3 goals; Cole Glover, 4 assists; Patrick Croome, 34 penalty minutes
GOALTENDERS: Victoria – Evan Roch (2.00 goals against average, .911 save percentage); Michael Herringer (2.61 goals against average, .867 save percentage). Peninsula – Stephen Heslop (3.09 goals against average, .915 save percentage); Justin Samra (3.90 goals against average, .860 save percentage)
SEASON SERIES: Cougars lead series, 1-0-0
PAST RESULTS/FUTURE MEETINGS:
- September 20, 2012. Peninsula Panthers 2 @ Victoria Cougars 6
- October 5, 2012. Victoria Cougars @ Peninsula Panthers
- November 2, 2012. Victoria Cougars @ Peninsula Panthers
- December 14, 2012. Victoria Cougars @ Peninsula Panthers
- January 31, 2013. Peninsula Panthers @ Victoria Cougars
- February 1, 2013. Victoria Cougars @ Peninsula Panthers
- February 7, 2013. Peninsula Panthers @ Victoria Cougars
HOME/AWAY RECORDS: Victoria – Home, 2-0-0. Peninsula – Away, 0-3-0
STREAKS: Victoria, 1L. Peninsula, 1W
LAST TEN: Victoria, 6-0-1. Peninsula, 3-3-0