January 9, 2013, Victoria BC (ISN) – The Victoria Cougars continue regular season play with a colossal matchup against the Saanich Braves this Thursday. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
Thursday’s game marks the seventh of eight meetings between these South Island Division rivals. Although the first place Cougars have come away with five victories, four of the six games played have been decided by two goals or less.
A lot is at stake for both teams, especially when it comes to the standings.
Victoria (33-1-0-2, 68 points) can pad its lead with a win while the second place Braves (25-7-0-2, 52 points), who have two games in hand on the Cougars, are looking for their first divisional title in over ten years.
Mark Van Helvoirt and his troops will be in uncharted waters when they enter Thursday’s game.
After winning its last 11 contests, Victoria dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the North Island Division leading Nanaimo Buccaneers last Saturday. Robert Zadra, Kelyn Opel, and Dane Feeney scored for the Cougars who squandered a two goal lead in the last ten minutes of the third period.
Victoria, who held period leads of 1-0 and 2-1, is now 29-0-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes.
Brody Coulter continues to shine for the Cougars. The smooth skating forward remains atop of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League leader board with 93 points. That puts Coulter 17 points ahead of his teammate Sam Rice and 25 points ahead of Saanich’s Ty Jones.
Opel, who was recently acquired from the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, has paid instant dividends. In three games, the newcomer has two goals and three assists for five points.
Saanich is looking for its second straight win following a 4-2 victory over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings last Saturday.
Scoring for the Braves, who never trailed in the game, were Sam McMullen, Max Mois, Justin Polischuk, and Seamus Maguire.
Tanner McGaw stopped 19 shots for the win.
Thursday’s game also marks the second to last game for both Victoria and Saanich before the All-Star Break.
Mark Walton, Jake Stolz, Graham Zagrodney, Evan Roch, Coulter, and Rice will represent the Cougars in the All-Star Game; meanwhile, Nathan Chen-Mack, Matthew Ho, Robert Zadra, and Feeney will represent Victoria in the Prospects Game.
Garett Kemmler, Josh Gray, McGaw, Mois, and Jones will represent the Braves in the All-Star Game; meanwhile, Shawn McBride, Nick Guerra, and McMullen will represent Saanich in the Prospects Game.
STANDINGS: Victoria – 1st place, 68 points, South Island Division. Saanich – 2nd place, 52 points, South Island Division
TEAM LEADERS: Victoria – Brody Coulter, 29 goals; Brody Coulter, 64 assists; Brody Coulter, 93 points; Jo Davie, 108 penalty minutes. Saanich – Ty Jones, 31 goals; Ty Jones, 37 assists; Ty Jones, 68 points; Liam Sproule, 130 penalty minutes
GOALTENDERS: Victoria – Evan Roch (1.53 goals against average, .929 save percentage); Michael Herringer (2.35 goals against average, .892 save percentage). Saanich – Tanner McGaw (2.34 goals against average, .922 save percentage); Bowman Rutledge (2.84 goals against average, .885 save percentage)
SEASON SERIES: Victoria leads series, 5-1-0-0
PAST RESULTS/FUTURE MEETINGS:
October 19, 2012. Victoria Cougars 3 @ Saanich Braves 2
November 9, 2012. Victoria Cougars 6 @ Saanich Braves 2
November 22, 2012. Saanich Braves 3 @ Victoria Cougars 1
November 23, 2012. Victoria Cougars 2 @ Saanich Braves 1 (SO)
December 20, 2012. Saanich Braves 1 @ Victoria Cougars 7
January 4, 2013. Victoria Cougars 2 @ Saanich Braves 1
February 14, 2013. Saanich Braves @ Victoria Cougars
HOME/AWAY RECORDS: Victoria – Home, 16-1-0-0. Saanich – Away, 13-1-0-0
STREAKS: Victoria, 0-0-0-1. Saanich, 1-0-0-0
LAST TEN: Victoria, 9-0-0-1. Saanich, 6-3-0-1