by Peter Kung
January 29, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – Two of the hottest teams in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League square off against each other Thursday when the Victoria Cougars host the Peninsula Panthers in what promises to be another barnburner of a game.
Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
Only ten points separate the first-place Cougars and second-place Peninsula in the South Island Division. However, the Panthers do hold a game in hand on Victoria which makes Thursday’s matchup all the more important.
The Cougars (32-8-1-1) extended their win streak to five games last Saturday following a 4-1 victory over the Nanaimo Buccaneers. Graham Zagrodney scored once and added three assists for Victoria who has not allowed more than one goal in nine of its last ten games.
That impressive feat included back-to-back-to-back shutout wins against the Oceanside Generals, Kerry Park Islanders, and Nanaimo.
Meanwhile, Peninsula (26-11-2-2) has won ten games in a row which includes a 5-2 victory over the Generals in its last outing. But the win did not come easy for the Panthers who had to claw their way back from a two-goal deficit. Alex Milligan scored his league-leading 36th and 37th goals in that game.
Thursday’s game marks the seventh of eight regular season meetings between these two long-standing rivals.
The Cougars, who leads the season series, have lost the last two meetings to Peninsula.
Home ice advantage has been huge in the series as all but one game has been won by the home side.
Both teams bulked up at the Jan. 10 trade deadline in hopes for a long playoff run. And Thursday’s game will no doubt have a playoff atmosphere to it.
Sam McMullen and Garett Kemmler have been godsends since joining Victoria five games ago. Acquired from the Saanich Braves in exchange for Jake Daughtry and Nyshan Basra, McMullen has posted one goal and six assists while Kemmler has provided valuable experience and puck-moving ability on the back end.
Likewise, Peninsula has found gems in Milligan and Taylor Branzsen. Both in their final year of junior eligibility, Milligan has tallied eight goals and six assists in six games for the Panthers while Branzsen has provided secondary scoring and grit to an already balanced lineup.
To land Milligan and Branzsen, Peninsula had to give up a pair of talented 18-year-olds in Nick Kean and Adam Page.
Blake Roney and Michael Fretz lead all Victoria scorers against the Panthers this season with four goals and three assists.
Peninsula is led by Connor Logan who has one goal and seven assists versus the Cougars this year. But be on the lookout for Sean Buchanan though. The 17-year-old defenseman has 13 goals on the season; however, six of them have come against Victoria.
Stephen Heslop has played all six games in net against the Cougars this year, compiling a 3.57 goals against average and a .904 save percentage during that span. However, Heslop has a 1.50 G.A.A. and a .946 S.P. in his last two games versus Victoria.
The Cougars will have five games left on their schedule after Thursday. Four of those games will come against teams with winning records.
Adults, seniors, or children who wear a Cougars jersey, Cougars touque, or Cougars hat to Thursday’s game will receive $2 off their paid admission.
In addition, the 50/50 will continue to feature ten additional bonus draws. EVERY Cougars home game between now and the end of the regular season will feature some sort of a promotion and EVERY game will feature bonus 50/50 prizes.
And in addition to the addition, the 50/50 bonus draws has been extended throughout the duration of the playoffs.
STANDINGS: Victoria – 1st place, 66 points, South Island Division. Peninsula – 2nd place, 56 points, South Island Division
OFFENSE: Victoria – 1st place, 4.64 goals per game. Peninsula – 3rd place, 4.34 goals per game
DEFENSE: Victoria – 1st place, 1.71 goals against per game. Peninsula – T3rd place, 3.17 goals against per game
TEAM LEADERS: Victoria – Blake Roney, 26 goals; Graham Zagrodney, 49 assists; Graham Zagrodney, 56 points; Robert Zadra, 46 penalty minutes. Peninsula – Alex Milligan, 37 goals; Connor Logan, 39 assists; Connor Logan, 64 points; Reece Costain, 141 penalty minutes
GOALTENDERS: Victoria – Nathan Hargrave (1.52 goals against average, .931 save percentage); Connor Beauchamp (1.78 goals against average, .918 save percentage). Peninsula – Joey Karrer (2.79 goals against average, .900 save percentage); Stephen Heslop (3.17 goals against average, .905 save percentage)
POWER PLAY: Victoria – 1st place, 74-for-269, 27.51 percent. Peninsula – 6th place, 42-for-232, 18.10 percent
PENALTY KILL: Victoria – 1st place, 190-for-208, 91.35 percent. Peninsula – 3rd place, 276-for-315, 87.62 percent
SEASON SERIES: Victoria leads series, 3-2-0-1
PAST RESULTS/FUTURE MEETINGS:
- September 12, 2013. Peninsula Panthers 5 @ Victoria Cougars 6 (2OT)
- September 26, 2013. Peninsula Panthers 5 @ Victoria Cougars 7
- October 11, 2013. Victoria Cougars 3 @ Peninsula Panthers 4 (2OT)
- October 25, 2013. Victoria Cougars 4 @ Peninsula Panthers 0
- November 8, 2013. Victoria Cougars 2 @ Peninsula Panthers 5
- January 10, 2014. Victoria Cougars 1 @ Peninsula Panthers 3
- February 9, 2014. Peninsula Panthers @ Victoria Cougars
HOME/AWAY RECORDS: Victoria – Home, 19-1-0-0. Peninsula – Away, 8-9-1-2
STREAKS: Victoria, 5-0-0-0. Peninsula, 11-0-0-1
LAST TEN: Victoria, 7-3-0-0. Peninsula, 10-0-0-0