Story: Peter Kung, Photos: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
December 15, 2013, Esquimalt (ISN) – The Victoria Cougars survived a late comeback attempt to beat the Westshore Wolves 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.
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Full penalty box – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
With Matt Chester pulled for an extra attacker and with the penalty box full of players from both teams, the Wolves had a lengthy two-man advantage before Eric MacLennan stepped out onto the ice to make it a 6-on-3 for the final 33 seconds.
Westshore pressed for the equalizer but could not solve the VIJHL’s No. 2 ranked penalty kill.
Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
Christmas came early for Victoria (25-5-1-1) and its fans as forwards Nicolas Bower and Mark Walton were both taken off the injury list just prior to game time.
Cougars score first – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
Bower, who paid instant dividends after assisting on the Cougars first goal, missed the last 17 games due to an upper body injury.
Wolves get their team on the board – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
Also sidelined with an upper body injury, Walton saw limited action in his return after missing the last two games.
Hard to believe no one got seriously hurt here – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
Michael Fretz, Marino Somerville, and Wade Johnson scored for Victoria who rebounded from a 2-0 setback to the Saanich Braves on Friday that halted the Cougars four-game winning streak.
On paper, this game should have been a blowout.
Matt Chester makes a sprawled out save – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
But the spirited Wolves (11-14-3-5), who iced only 15 skaters and two goalies, defied all odds.
Victoria opened the scoring at the 3:20 mark of the first period after Fretz finished off a pretty passing play with Robert Zadra and Bower.
Marino Somerville and Jayme Jackson, face-off – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
A cross-checking penalty to Jake Daughtry put Westshore on a power play midway through the period. And at 12:53, Corey Peterson swatted the puck past Connor Beauchamp for his first goal as a Wolf. Peterson was acquired from the Kerry Park Islanders in exchange for Hobin Zinck in the third week of November.
The game gets chippy – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
There was no scoring until the 18:34 mark of the middle frame when Somerville took a Patrick Webb rebound off the end glass and shoveled the puck home to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
Victoria went ahead by two on a goal by Johnson at 5:58 of the third period. From the high slot, Fretz passed the puck to a wide open Johnson who beat Chester from the top of the goal crease.
A battle for the puck – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
Westshore cut the lead to 3-2 on a power play. With 1:49 remaining in regulation, Peterson scored from the side of the net for his second goal of the game.
After the goal, Beauchamp was penalized for roughing after the whistle.
Jake Daughtry gets sent against the Wolves’ net – Photo: Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
With Walton already in the sin bin serving a double-minor for head butting and MacLennan serving a minor for roughing, the penalty to Beauchamp put the Cougars behind the eight-ball.
Things got dicier for Victoria when MacLennan stepped out onto the ice to give the Wolves a 6-on-3 advantage. But the Cougars weathered the storm and came away with the two points.
Victoria, who outshot Westshore 18-12 in the first period, 13-11 in the second, and 14-8 in the third for an overall total of 45-31, went 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Daughtry left the game late in the third period with an apparent leg injury.
Former Cougar greats Sam Rice and Connor Stephens were in attendance.
Next game for Victoria is Thursday, December 19 against the Saanich Braves. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
1st star, Blake Roney (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Jake Daughtry (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Matt Chester (Saves: 42, Save Percentage: .933)