Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart , With Files From Peter Kung
November 22, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves dropped their seventh game in a row on Thursday night, as they were defeated 5-1 by the Victoria Cougars in VIJHL action at Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt.
David Marshall caused most of the damage for the Cougars as he scored a pair of goals, one in the first to open the scoring and another in the third. Also scoring for Victoria (18-3-1-1), who have now rattled off four straight wins, were Blake Roney, Liam Carradine and Wade Johnson.
Josh Poland (with his fourth of the season) replied for the Braves.
The Braves had plenty of opportunities to score in this one, managing to get seven powerplay opportunities in the Cougar’s barn, but failed to capitalize, especially during an extend two-man advantage midway through the second period.
The Cougar’s David Marshall (12 white) battles with the Brave’s Hunter Atchison (14 black) during VIJHL action Thursday night in Esquimalt (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
However, the Cougars kept Saanich to the outside and limited the Braves to four long range shots. Goaltender Nathan Hargrave, who was Victoria’s best penalty killer, made 25 saves in total which included stopping 13 shots in that second period alone. In the third however, Hargrave had plenty of time to recover, as the Braves fell silent, registering just three shots on goal in the period.
Marshall, who was recently named Cougars Player of the Week, opened the scoring at 10:52 of the first for the only goal of the period. Zeroing in on his target, Marshall roofed the puck over the catching glove of Braves goaltender Jordan Werezak.
Victoria goaltender Nathan Hargrave, here stretching in a quiet third period, would stop 24 of 25 shots to get the win against the Braves on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
There was no scoring until the 90 second mark of the middle frame. Roney, who also has points in his last seven games, banged home a Howard Howden rebound from the edge of the crease for his 13th goal of the season.
Four minutes after the Braves failed to score during their two-man advantage, Poland twinkled the twine after picking up a loose puck during a mad scramble in front of Hargrave. Carradine then restored Victoria’s two goal lead at 16:20 as he broke in off the left wing and fired a shot over Werezak’s shoulder.
Victoria’s Howard Howden carries the puck out of his end Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Hargrave, who lowered his goals against average to a league low 1.84, robbed Hunter Atchison from point blank range with three minutes remaining in the period to keep Saanich from gaining any momentum heading into the final stanza.
Victoria’s Howard Howden (right) and Saanich’s Sasha Hahn (left) battle for a loose puck during the Cougar’s 5-1 win Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Cougars went ahead 4-1 on Marshall’s team leading 16th goal of the season. At the six minute mark of the third period, Marshall faked Werezak out of position before lighting the lamp for the second time in the game.
Saanich’s Garett Kemmler carries the puck out of his end Thursday against the Cougars (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Johnson, who rang the puck off the goal post late in the second period, rounded out the scoring with four minutes and 48-seconds left in regulation. After the goal, Werezak was replaced by Matthew Rud after allowing five goals on 36 shots. Rud stopped the two shots he faced the rest of the way.
The Braves, who have been bit by the injury bug, did see Nick Guerra return to the line-up Thursday, but in return, their leading scorer Sam McMullen (9 goals, 15 assists) is now out indefinitely with a lower body injury. Liam Sproule, Tom Dakers, Dayne Ellison and Scott Henderson were also out of the line-up on Thursday.
Saanich’s Nick Guerra (right) was back in the line-up Thursday after missing six games with an injury (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The loss drops the Braves to 7-14-1-1 on the season and with Kerry Park’s win over Westshore on Thursday, the Braves now sit in the basement of the South Division, 5 points behind the 4th place Islanders.
Life does not get any easier for the Braves – who last posted a win on October 26th when they blanked Oceanside 2-0 – as they will be right back at it against these same Cougars at Pearkes Arena on Friday evening and hope to rebound quickly from the loss. Game time is 6:30 pm.