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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

September 13, 2013, Saanich, BC (ISN) – Ryan Carson’s third period goal proved to be the difference as the Victoria Cougar’s emerged with a 3-2 win over the Saanich Braves in VIJHL hockey action Friday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

Carson’s goal, his second of the year, scored at the 9:12 mark of the third, came courtesy of a defensive miscue by Braves defenceman Jordan Groenhyde, who gave the puck up to Carson at the top of the face-off circle in the Braves end, allowing Carson to break in alone and beat Saanich netminder Jordan Werezak with a nice deke to the stick side.

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Saanich’s Quinn Miller moves the puck past the Cougar’s Blake Roney (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The miscue was the second glaring one on the night for the Braves defence, as the Cougars also took advantage of some miscommunication by the Braves d-men to score their first goal at the 4:25 mark of the second period. After a shoot in on Werezak, he would play it off to one of his defencemen, but Jake Daughtry somehow found the puck on his stick and then found Blake Roney all alone in front, who made no mistake, tying the game, at that point, 1-1.

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Victoria’s Michael Fretz, acquired from Oceanside in the off-season, showed plenty of speed Friday against the Braves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Braves had opened the scoring at the 12:32 mark of the first period, when Captain Sam McMullen made a nice centering pass to Hunter Atchison, who would snap a low shot past Cougar starter Connor Beauchamp for his third on the young season. The goal brought a little bit of animation to what had been a quiet crowd, although Cougar mega-fan Harvey and a new Saanich Braves mega-fan were battling it out on the native drums and trying to get the crowd into the game.

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The Cougars David Marshall would earn an assist Friday against the Braves (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

After Roney’s tying goal in the second, the Cougars would take the lead on the powerplay, as new Captain Mark Walton, with his fourth of the year, would bang in a rebound off a goalmouth scramble at the 15:37 mark to put the Cougars up 2-1.

The score would stay that way until the 7:38 mark of the third period, as the Braves Nick Guerra would score his fourth of the season on the powerplay, converting a nice pass from McMullen to tie things up 2-2. However less than two minutes later, Carson’s heroics had put the Cougars back in front for good.

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Saanich’s Garrett Kemmler would notch a pair of assists on Friday against the Cougars (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

From this author’s perspective, this Cougars-Braves match-up, especially early on, lacked the intensity and animosity that were present between the teams during games last year which led to some highly entertaining and classic match-ups. While the game was close, and there were moments here and there that had that old intensity, with both teams featuring a wealth of new faces, these players have simply just not played each other enough to develop that fierce rivalry the Braves and Cougars are known for.

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Changing of the Guard: New Captians Sam McMullen (left) and Mark Walton (right) battle it out following a faceoff (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That is sure to change as the season progresses, and when these teams see each other for the eighth time this season on January 24th, 2014, we’ll check in again to take that particular measurement.

The three stars of the game were not announced (for some reason the Braves do not do this when they lose at home), but let’s give them to Garret Kemmler (Braves) for third star with 2 assists, Sam McMullen (Braves) for second star with two assists, and winning goal scorer Ryan Carson of the Cougars for the first star.

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Saanich’s Sam McMullen tries to get position on the checking Jake Stolz of the Cougars (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Braves are right back at it Saturday as they take the long ride up island to visit the Campbell River Storm. The Storm are coming off a 6-5 OT loss to Westshore on Wednesday, a game in which they peppered 70 shots on goalie Matt Chester.

For more of Christian J. Stewart’s images from this and other Saanich Braves games CLICK HERE!