October 18, 2013, NANAIMO, B.C. (ISN) – All the pregame hype surrounding Thursday night’s colossal battle between the Nanaimo Buccaneers and Victoria Cougars sure lived up to its billing.
Unfortunately for Mark Van Helvoirt and his troops, they came out on the short end of the stick and suffered their first regulation loss of the season.
Nanaimo overcame a pair of one-goal deficits to defeat the visiting Cougars 3-2 in front of over 400 boisterous fans at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Jordan Levesque scored the eventual game winner early in the third period.
Victoria (12-1-0-1), who was without the services of defenseman Jake Stolz and forwards Jordan Davie, Michael Fretz, and Jordan Marciniak, played a near flawless opening 20 minutes before crumbling under the heft of the injury bug.
The game was the first of four meetings between the two heavyweights.
Mark Walton opened the scoring at 7:39 of the first period with his team leading 11th goal of the year. Left unguarded, Walton wired a shot over the catching glove of goalie Ryan Waldhaus.
The Cougars almost made it 2-0 late in the period only to have Waldhaus stop a breakaway attempt by Jake Daughtry.
Shots on goal favoured Victoria 12-4.
But Nanaimo (12-2-0-0), who was coming off a 2-1 road loss to the Westshore Wolves the night prior, quickly turned the tide as they outshot the Cougars by a 14-4 margin in the second period.
47 seconds after Kyle McDonald broke up an odd man rush led by Daughtry, crasher-and-banger Nick White beat net minder Connor Beauchamp with a backhander from in close at 3:47.
Zagrodney, named the game’s second star, took a drop pass at 16:44 from Blake Roney and wristed a shot past a stunned Waldhaus.
But with less than two minutes remaining in the period, Garrett Dunlop tied the game with an unassisted goal.
Levesque, goalless in his last three games, broke out of his slump with the game winner 30 seconds into the final frame. With fans still getting to their seats, Riel Gibson sent a pass out front to Levesque who banged it home for his seventh goal of the season.
The visitors received a late power play when Jackson Robinson was called for interference. But the Buccaneers’ top ranked penalty kill bested Victoria’s top ranked power play by limiting them to only one shot on goal.
Still trailing Nanaimo by a goal, the Cougars pulled Beauchamp for an extra attacker in a last ditch effort to tie the game.
Victoria pressed for the tying goal and in the dying seconds they thought they had it but no one in the black uniforms could get their stick on the loose puck.
John Kretzschmar and Cam MacKay played well for the Cougars despite the loss.
Referee Jory Cole doled out a total of five minor penalties; three to the Buccaneers and two to Victoria.
Waldhaus stopped 24 shots for his ninth win of the year. Meanwhile, Beauchamp made 21 saves in a losing cause.
Next game for Victoria is Thursday, October 24 against the Kerry Park Islanders. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
1st star, Garrett Dunlop (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Graham Zagrodney (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Nick White (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)