Braves Doubled up By Cougars in Battle of VIJHL’s Best

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Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

January 10, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – In a battle of the VIJHL’s top two teams Thursday, the Victoria Cougars would use a pair of power-play goals to double up the Saanich Braves 4-2 at Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt.

Four different goal scorers would hit the net for the Cougars with Ben Kinshella getting things started with a power-play goal at 13:30 of the first period, completing a pretty passing play from Mark Walton and Brody Coulter. Also scoring for Victoria were Brandon Egli at 10:16 of the second, Brody Coulter at 15:08 of the second, on the power play, and an insurance marker from Sam Rice at 5:06 of the third. Dane Feeney, along with Rice and Coulter would each have a pair of assists to contribute to the Cougars attack.

Saanich's Liam Sproule tries to knock the puck away from Victoria's Kelyn Opel during first period action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Liam Sproule tries to knock the puck away from Victoria’s Kelyn Opel during first period action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Cougars would never trail in this game, holding a 1-0 first period lead and a 3-2 second period lead before adding the insurance marker in the third. The Cougars would outshoot the Braves in each period as well, finishing with a 31-24 advantage on the night.

Saanich's Sam McMullen drives toward the net on a first period chance Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Sam McMullen drives toward the net on a first period chance Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Despite the loss, the Braves should be happy with the performance of newcomer Cole Golka who came to the Braves in a deadline deal with the Peninsula Panthers and contributed both Saanich goals.

Golka’s first was an impressive shorthanded effort at 4:50 of the second period that saw him break to the net and while falling, somehow get his stick on the puck and fire a shot past Cougars starter Evan Roch to tie the game at the time 1-1.

Saanich's Jordan Groenhyde was back in the line-up Thursday and here brings the puck into the attacking zone in frot of Victoria's Sam Rice (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Jordan Groenhyde was back in the line-up Thursday and here brings the puck into the attacking zone in frot of Victoria’s Sam Rice (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

His second came on the Braves powerplay when he took a nice feed at the point from Max Mois, walked into the high slot and wired one past Roch to pull the Braves to 3-2 later in that same period.

In the third, as usually happens with teams who have overall records as good as the Cougars, they found a way to get an insurance marker when Sam Rice put a rebound past a sprawling Tanner McGaw at 5:06 of the period to bump the lead to 4-2.

Saanich's Cole Golka, recently acquired from the Peninsula Panthers, scored both Saanich goals in his Brave debut (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Cole Golka, recently acquired from the Peninsula Panthers, scored both Saanich goals in his Brave debut (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Despite four opportunities on the power play in the third period for the Braves following Rice’s goal, including a 5-on-3 chance when the Cougar’s Robert Zadra was whistled for delay of game at 6:56, the Braves could not generate much in the way of shots and would not score again in the game, finishing a disappointing 1 for 10 on the powerplay for the evening.

Saanich's Sam McMullen drives to the net in the second period Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Sam McMullen drives to the net in the second period Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

League leading goaltender Evan Roch would notch his 23rd win of the season, stopping 22 of the 24 shots he faced, while Saanich’s Tanner McGaw would stop 27 of 31 in the loss.

Dane Feeney, with his two assists, was the first star of the game, while Saanich’s Golka and his two goals was second. Victoria’s Robert Zadra was named third star.

Saanich's Ty Jones would notch an assist, but nothing more, in the 4-2 loss to Victoria on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Saanich’s Ty Jones would notch an assist, but nothing more, in the 4-2 loss to Victoria on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Game Notes: The Braves are slowly returning to health as the latest returnee to the line-up for Saanich was defenseman Jordan Groenhyde, who missed a number of games with a knee injury. Jason Stewart was also in the lineup in place of Goaltender Bowman Rutledge who was out with a lower body injury, while Josh Gray was also absent from the line-up. Defenceman Kevin Massy was also out, serving a suspension for a fight in Comox last week.

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