Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
March 7, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Cougars used four third period goals, including two from Brody Coulter, to roll to a 6-3 win over the Saanich Braves in Game 3 of the VIJHL South Division Final at Archie Browning Arena on Thursday evening.
The win gives the Cougars a 2-1 lead in the series with Game 4 set to go Friday night back at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.
The Cougars win looked to be in doubt through the first two periods, as the Braves used an effective forecheck and a superb penalty kill to battle the Cougars to a 2-2 tie after two periods, and were leading the game 2-1 until late in the second.
The Cougar’s Robert Zadra avoids the forecheck of Saanich’s Justin Polischuk during Thursday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Both the Cougar’s and Braves were beneficiaries of strange bounces on their first goals, both in the first period. First, Jordan Davie was in the perfect position to play a puck that bounced strangely off Saanich goaltender Tanner McGaw when he came well out of the net to play a clear in. Davie would almost appear to kick the puck in, as it trickled across the line to give the Cougars the 1-0 lead at the 10:32 mark.
Josh Gray of Saanich brings the puck into the Cougar’s zone during second period action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Braves would get a lucky bounce of their own at 16:36 when a Garett Kemmler point shot would deflect in, pinball like fashion, off the Braves Justin Polischuk and then a Cougar defender, before evading Cougar goaltender Evan Roch.
In the second period, the Braves would jump into the lead at the 3:30 mark when the speedy Cole Golka would split the Cougar’s defence to break in and fire a low shot through the five-hole of Roch.
Saanich’s Cole Golka spilts the Cougar defence en route to scoring Saanich’s second goal (top) and then celebrates (bottom) (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Shortly after the Golka goal, the Cougar’s would go to work on the powerplay, being afforded three extra-man chances in a row, keeping the puck deep in the Saanich end for extended periods of time, but being consistently foiled by either McGaw, or the Brave’s penalty kill who did a great job of filling the passing and shooting lanes.
Despite their lack of success on those three powerplays, the Cougar’s pressure did have an impact on the Braves, as just when the third penalty ended, a tired Braves penalty killing team gave the puck away to the Cougar’s Nathan Chen-Mack. He spotted a streaking Dane Feeney, who would slip one by McGaw at 18:30 to tie the game 2-2.
Saanich’s Garett Kemmler clears the puck out of danger during third period action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the third, the Cougars would come out strong on the forecheck and force the Braves Chad Roorda into a turnover, giving the puck to a wide open Sam Rice in the slot, who buried a top-corner shot past McGaw just 11 seconds into the period.
Shortly after that goal, the Braves and their fans got a bit of a scare as goaltender McGaw went down with what appeared to be a serious lower-body injury after being crashed into by Rice, who had been tripped while driving hard to the net.
Victoria’s Nathan Chen-Mack would have a goal and three assists to pace the Cougars attack on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
McGaw stayed down and was attended to for some time by the trainers, but stayed in the game despite appearing to be in some discomfort.
Not long after that, the Cougars would extend their lead, when, in a four-on-four situation, Brody Coulter would streak past the Brave’s Shawn McBride just inside the blueline and roof a beauty of a shot short-side on McGaw. 4-2 Cougars.
Victoria’s Brody Coulter would be denied a chance for his second goal here by Saanich goaltender Tanner McGaw (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Coulter would strike again at the 12:21 mark when he backhanded home a Brandon Egli rebound and that 5th goal would spell the end of the night for McGaw, who still seemed to be favouring the injury sustained in the collision with Rice.
After narrowly missing his second goal (previous photo) the Cougar’s Brody Coulter would capitalize on an opportunity a few moments later to put the Cougars up 5-2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
While the Braves would get one back on the powerplay at 14:48 when Max Mois tipped one home, the Cougars would seal the deal at the 17:55 mark when Chen-Mack, already with three assists in the game, would snipe one past Bowman Rutledge to put the Cougars up 6-3.
The Cougars would outshoot the Braves 40-27 on the night with Chen-Mack and his four points earning first star honours. Coulter was second star while the Brave’s Golka was named third star.
Game 4 puck-drop is scheduled for 6:30 pm on Friday at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.