Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
December 21, 2012, Saanich, BC – The Peninsula Panthers used three powerplay goals, including two in the third period to break open a 3-3 tie and secure a 5-3 win over the Saanich Braves in VIJHL action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The loss was the second in a row for the Braves, who lost 7-1 to Victoria on Thursday, and marked the first time this season that the injury riddled Braves – again missing several key regulars from the line-up – have posted back to back losses.
Both teams played a relatively even first period, with the Panthers showing slightly more hustle and jumping into a 2-0 lead halfway through the period on the strength of a pair of goals from Cole Golka, the second of which came on a Panthers powerplay.
Cole Golka’s two first period goals would spark the Panthers to an early 3-1 lead Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves would respond with a powerplay marker of their own at the 11:24 mark, when Ty Jones would skate down the left wing and blast a beauty of a shot top corner on a partially screened Stephen Heslop, the Panthers starting goaltender.
Before the period was out however, the Panthers would reestablish the two goal lead when Will Finlay would get one past Braves starter Tanner McGaw, who was back in the nets after being pulled after the second period on Thursday against Victoria.
Peninsula’s Austin Singhera pushed past Saanich’s Nick Guerra during Friday night VIJHL action in Saanich (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The second period belonged to the Braves and they would swing the momentum back in their favour with two powerplay goals, the first by Shawn McBride at the 11:05 mark and the second by Jones, his second of the game and 29th of the season, at 15:27.
The well played game to that point would take a decidedly undisciplined turn in the third, as both teams would take roughing penalties early, but it was the Braves who do themselves no favours just a few minutes later when they took a double minor for roughing and a bench minor at the 6:36 mark to put the Panthers on a two-man advantage.
Peninsula’s Ben Meek moves the puck out of his zone Friday against Saanich (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
They would capitalize on this just as the first minor penalty expired when Cole Glover would tip an Austin Singhera point shot past McGaw to put the Panthers in the lead 4-3.
Things would get even uglier just two minutes later, when Saanich’s Jones ran Panther goalie Heslop into the boards behind the Panther net and then got involved in a fight with the Panther’s Singhera who had come to the defence of his goaltender. At the same time, Saanich defenseman Liam Sproule also fought with the Panther’s Reece Costaine. All four players were ejected.
Saanich’s Shawn McBride would have a goal and two assists against the Panthers on Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Just a minute-and-a-half later, the Braves once again found themselves shorthanded after a cross-checking penalty to Shawn McBride and once again, the Panthers would capitalize, as rookie Nathan Looysen would make a nice move to put the puck past McGaw and give the Panthers the insurance marker at the 12:25 mark.
The penalty troubles would continue for the Braves as rookie Nick Guerra would be given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head on Panther defenceman Spencer Loverock that left Loverock dazed, forcing him to leave the game.
All in all the Braves would take 95 minutes in penalties in the game, all but 6 of which came in the chippy third period. Similarly, the Panthers took 70 minutes in penalties, 60 of which occurred in the third period.
Final shots in the game were 30-30 and while the three stars were not announced, let’s give them here to Peninsula’s Golka (2 goals), Cole Glover (1 goal, 1 assist) and the Brave’s Jones (2 goals, 1 assist). Honorable mention to Saanich’s Shawn McBride with a goal and two assists.
Both teams are now off for the Christmas break and will next play when they face each other in a re-match on Friday December 28th when the Braves visit the Panthers.