Third Period Collapse Costly for Braves

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Saanich Braves full color logo

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

November 27, 2013, Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Peninsula Panthers used four third-period goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and go on to a 5-3 win over the Saanich Braves in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

It was the kind of night, and game, where the Saanich Braves wished the rules called for a 50-minute game, while the Peninsula Panthers were glad that the rules require teams to play a full 60 minutes.

The Braves, playing perhaps their best hockey in the month of November, had outworked and out hustled the Panthers for most of the first two periods and thanks to goals from Fraser Sutherland, Hunter Atchison and Wade Bartlett and some solid goaltending from starter Jordan Werezak – looking for his first win in his last nine starts – held a 3-1 lead after the first two frames.

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Saanich’s Jordan Groenhyde looks to clear the puck out of his zone during first period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Panthers would cut that lead to 3-2 on a power-play goal from the Panthers’ Zack Smith at the 5:50 mark, but despite that, the Braves were playing well and with a one-goal lead with less than nine minutes to play, looked like they might be on their way to breaking the 8-game losing streak that has plagued them over the month of November.

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The Panther’s Connor Logan (background) would get whistled for this hook on the Brave’s Nick Guerra during second period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The hockey gods had other plans however, and after a 4-on-4 game-tying goal from the Panthers’ Braeden Pearce at the 12:34 mark and then a go-ahead and eventual game winning goal from Matthew Sheeran just two minutes later, it was clear those gods were not yet ready to forgive the Braves for whatever sins they appear to have committed earlier this season.

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Saanich’s Nick Guerra drives past Peninsula’s Matthew Sheeran during Wednesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

An empty net goal by Cole Glover at the 19:08 mark sealed the deal and handed the Braves the 5-3 loss, their 9th in a row, keeping them winless in the month of November.

The loss was a frustrating one for the Braves, especially given their good start, and overshadowed nice performances from Atchison (with a goal and an assist) and from Werezak who finished with a 41 save night, 14 of which came in the first period to keep his team in the game early.

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Saanich’s Josh Poland carries the puck out of his end Wednesday against Peninsula (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

That frustration began to show late in the game with a number of scrums that saw players from both teams sent off with misconduct penalties, pushing the total penalty minutes for the game to 132 (70 for the Panthers and 62 for the Braves).

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Saanich’s Hunter Atchison would have a goal and an assist to pace the Brave’s attack Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For the Panthers, Cole Glover led the way with a goal and two assists, while Cody Breitenstein also added a pair of assists. Tate Coughlin scored the first goal for the Panthers, while Stephen Heslop got the win in net, stopping 17 of the 20 shots he saw on the night.

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Peninsula’s Matthew Sheeran (77) would notch the game winning goal for the Panthers on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The win moves the Panthers record to 13-9-2-1 and they sit in second in the South, 2 points up on the Westshore Wolves, who secured a 5-4 win over Oceanside on Wednesday. The Braves drop to 7-16-1-1 and they sit 5th in the South, 8 points back of the idle Kerry Park Islanders.

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Saanich’s Chase Anchikoski gestures towards the Peninsula bench as he is escorted off the ice by linesman Stewart Speakman after a third period scrum Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Next up for the Braves are the North Division Campbell River Storm (15-7-2-1) who blow into Pearkes Arena on Friday evening for their third match-up of the month with Saanich. The Storm defeated the Braves 8-0 on November 8th and 5-2 on November 9th in a sweep of a home-and-home weekend series and the Braves will be looking for some revenge for those losses. Game time is 6:30 PM.

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