November 22, 2012, Victoria, BC – The Victoria Cougars (22-0-0-1) host the Saanich Braves (16-4-0-0) in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 tonight. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m. Tonight’s tilt marks the third of eight regular season meetings between the two clubs and the start of a crucial home-and-home series.
13 points separate the first place Cougars and second place Braves; however, Saanich has played three fewer games.
Victoria holds a two game series lead following 3-2 and 6-2 wins. Incidentally, both games were played behind enemy lines.
In the first meeting, played back on Oct. 19, the visiting Cougars battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit with three unanswered goals. Liam Sproule and Josh Gray gave the home side an early advantage before Sam Rice, Dane Feeney, and Graham Zagrodney sealed the deal for Victoria.
Then on Nov. 9, the two teams were tied 2-2 at the four minute mark of the third period before the Cougars broke the game wide open on goals by Feeney, Rhys Williams, Ben Kinshella, and Garrett Brandsma.
Special teams have been a factor in the series. Victoria is 5-for-12 on the power play while the Braves are 1-for-10.
Tonight’s game will also feature a classic matchup between Cougars’ Brody Coulter and Saanich’s Ty Jones.
Coulter, who is on pace to shatter Michael Hammond’s team record of 98 points in 48 games set six years ago, continues to lead the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in scoring with 66 points.
Jones, who is third in league scoring with 48 points, leads the VIJHL with 22 goals.
In net, Victoria will undoubtedly go with Evan Roch while the Braves will counter with Tanner McGaw.
Roch leads the VIJHL with 13 wins, a league low 1.62 goals against average, and a league high .923 save percentage.
McGaw has 12 wins, a 2.44 G.A.A., and a .919 S.P. thus far.
The Cougars enter tonight’s contest having won their last 16 games. Last weekend, Victoria downed the Campbell River Storm 9-4 before trouncing the North Island Division leading Comox Valley Glacier Kings 9-3.
Following its 5-2 victory over the Kerry Park Islanders last Friday, Saanich extended its win streak to two games.
Tonight’s contest begins a stretch of 12 games for Victoria against divisional foes. The next time the Cougars faces a team from the North Island Division is not until Jan. 5 when they travel to Nanaimo to take on the expansion Buccaneers.
Game 2 goes Friday night at the George R. Pearkes Community Recreation Centre.
STANDINGS: Victoria – 1st place, 45 points, South Island Division. Saanich – 2nd place, 32 points, South Island Division
TEAM LEADERS: Victoria – Mark Walton, 21 goals; Brody Coulter, 48 assists; Brody Coulter, 66 points; Garrett Brandsma, 94 penalty minutes. Saanich – Ty Jones, 22 goals; Ty Jones, 26 assists; Ty Jones, 48 points; Tom Dakers, 73 penalty minutes
GOALTENDERS: Victoria – Evan Roch (1.62 goals against average, .923 save percentage); Michael Herringer (2.65 goals against average, .883 save percentage). Saanich – Tanner McGaw (2.44 goals against average, .919 save percentage); Bowman Rutledge (3.00 goals against average, .874 save percentage)
SEASON SERIES: Victoria leads series, 2-0-0-0
PAST RESULTS/FUTURE MEETINGS:
- October 19, 2012. Victoria Cougars 3 @ Saanich Braves 2
- November 9, 2012. Victoria Cougars 6 @ Saanich Braves 2
- November 23, 2012. Victoria Cougars @ Saanich Braves
- December 20, 2012. Saanich Braves @ Victoria Cougars
- January 4, 2013. Victoria Cougars @ Saanich Braves
- January 10, 2013. Saanich Braves @ Victoria Cougars
- February 14, 2013. Saanich Braves @ Victoria Cougars
HOME/AWAY RECORDS: Victoria – Home, 11-0-0-0. Saanich – Away, 7-0-0-0
STREAKS: Victoria, W16. Saanich, W2
LAST TEN: Victoria, 10-0-0-0. Saanich, 8-2-0-0