Braves Fall Just Short in 2-1 Loss to Cougars

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Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

January 4, 2012, Saanich, BC (ISN) – Goals by Mark Walton and Garrett Brandsma led the Victoria Cougars to a 2-1 win over the Saanich Braves in VIJHL action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

After a 9-2 penalty-filled win over the Westshore Wolves on Thursday night, it was a game at the opposite end of the VIJHL spectrum as the Cougars had to survive a late Saanich rally to eke out the one-goal win, in a game with just three goals and a mere 14 minutes total in penalties, 8 to the Cougars and just 6 for the Braves.

Victoria defenseman Jake Stolz rushes the puck out of his end during the Cougar's 2-1 win over Saanich on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria defenseman Jake Stolz rushes the puck out of his end during the Cougar’s 2-1 win over Saanich on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

With a number of Saanich players back in the line-up, the game was a much closer affair than the game at Victoria just before Christmas, that saw the Cougars pull away with a 7-1 win.

Both teams had chances to score, but it was the Cougars who would prevail in period one with a goal from Mark Walton at the 15:32 mark of the period. Walton would swoop on to a rebound in the slot and chip it by Brave starter Tanner McGaw for the 1-0 Cougar lead.

Victoria's Mark Walton would open the scoring with a first period goal against Saanich on Firday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria’s Mark Walton would open the scoring with a first period goal against Saanich on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

In a near identical second period, the Cougars would extend their lead, this time at the 15:43 mark, when Garrett Brandsma would pick up a puck near the top of the right face-off circle, turn and fire a shot past McGaw to put the Cougars up 2-0 through two periods.

Just under four minutes into the third period, the Braves would finally break the armour on Cougar starter Evan Roch, ironically with probably their weakest shot of the night, as Ty Jones would poke at a lose puck at the side of the net and somehow get it past Roch to make it 2-1.

The Cougar's Garrett Brandsma would have a strong game, scoring the eventual game winner with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Cougar’s Garrett Brandsma would have a strong game, scoring the eventual game winner Friday with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Both teams would have chances to score after that, most notably the Cougars’ Dane Feeney who was robbed point blank by McGaw with just over 5 minutes remaining.

The Cougar’s Roch would come up with a game-saving save of his own right at the end of the game, as with just seconds remaining and their goalie pulled, the Braves won a face-off and got the puck back to sniper Josh Gray who fired a hard shot on net that Roch calmly stopped with an excellent glove save, knocking the puck away and preserving the win.

Saanich's Sam McMullen shows a little jump as he moves the puck through the neutral zone against the Victoria Cougars Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Sam McMullen shows a little jump as he moves the puck through the neutral zone against the Victoria Cougars Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The win moves the Cougars’ incredible record to 33-1-1 while the Braves fall to 24-7-2. Victoria outshot the Braves 33-21. Three stars were not announced but ISN gives the nod to goaltenders Roch and McGaw, as well as a third star to the Cougar’s Garrett Brandsma for the game-winning goal.

Also of note in the game, the Cougar’s Brody Coulter was quietly held pointless, bringing to an end his 31-game point streak.

Saanich's Ty Jones (18) and Shawn McBride (23) and the rest of the Braves kept Victoria's Brody Coulter in check Friday, keeping him off the scoreboard and halting his 31-game point streak (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Ty Jones (18), Shawn McBride (23) and the rest of the Braves kept Victoria’s Brody Coulter (19) in check Friday, keeping him off the scoreboard and halting his 31-game point streak (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Both the Braves and Cougars are back in action Saturday evening as they will head north, with the Cougars visiting the Nanaimo Buccaneers, while the Braves head further north to take on the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.

See the full set of Christian J. Stewart’s game action images from this game HERE.

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