By Peter Kung
September 13, 2013, Victoria, BC – Fans got their money’s worth at the Archie Browning Sports Centre on Thursday night as Mark Walton scored the game winning goal seven seconds into double overtime to propel the Victoria Cougars to a 6-5 win over the Peninsula Panthers.
Victoria, who is one of only three remaining unbeaten teams in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, has been putting up some pretty amazing numbers thus far.
In three games, the Cougars have outscored their opponents 22-8.
Victoria received dazzling performances from Jo Davie and Michael Fretz. Both players recorded three points each.
It was a see-saw battle from start to finish as neither team held leads of greater than two goals.
The upstart Panthers, who had as many as 13 returning players in their lineup, led 1-0 and 2-1 before playing catch up the rest of the way.
Will Finlay opened the scoring when his pass banked off a Cougars defender and in. The goal, which was scored at 8:33 of the first period, came shorthanded.
Davie and Cody Breitenstein exchanged powerplay goals in a span of 34 seconds before Davie’s second marker of the period tied the game at 14:07.
Blake Roney would send Victoria into the first intermission nursing a one goal lead.
Nine seconds into the middle frame, Jackson Skerratt tied the game after teaming up with Brandon Story and Connor Logan.
A high-sticking penalty Reece Costain put the Cougars powerplay back to work. Walton, with a seeing-eye shot over the glove of Stephen Heslop, put the Cougars ahead once again.
But at 3:53, Peninsula tied the game when a centering pass from Logan was tipped home by Sean Buchanan.
That goal ended Nathan Hargrave’s night. Hargrave, who was making his first start in net for Victoria, was pulled after allowing four goals on ten shots.
Fretz, who wreaked havoc all night, gave the Cougars a 5-4 lead at the 5:39 mark when his shot from the off wing sailed over the left shoulder of Heslop.
Skerratt would force overtime with the only goal of the third period.
Playing four aside, Victoria outshot the Panthers 9-2 in the first overtime period. Patrick Webb had three of those shots, Graham Zagrodney had two, and Nicholas Bower, Ryan Carson, Jake Stolz, and Fretz each had one.
But it was Finlay who had the best scoring chance. 20 seconds in, the Whistler, B.C. native wired a point blank shot on net but was calmly rejected by Connor Beauchamp.
And after the buzzer sounded to end the first overtime, the two teams skated to their respective benches for a two minute break.
Now playing three aside, Walton won the game for the Cougars when he and Fretz broke free for a 2-on-1 break. Just seconds after the face off at centre ice, Fretz slid a crossing pass over to Walton who beat Heslop top shelf.
Heslop, who turned aside 47-of-53 shots, was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the goal.
Victoria went 2-for-7 on the powerplay; meanwhile, the Panthers went 1-for-5.
Getting the win was Beauchamp who faced 15 shots in relief.
Marino Somerville, who was recently acquired by the Cougars, was reunited with Fretz. Both players played for the Oceanside Generals last season.
In Nanaimo, the Buccaneers improved to 3-0-0-0 on the season following their 5-0 win over Oceanside.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, September 13 against the undefeated Saanich Braves. Game time at the George R. Pearkes Community Recreation Centre, located at 3100 Tillicum Road, is 6:30 p.m.
1st star, Patrick Webb (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Michael Fretz (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
3rd star, Stephen Heslop (Saves: 47, Save Percentage: .887)