by Peter Kung
January 31, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – Mark Walton scored a power play goal 27 seconds into overtime to help lift the Victoria Cougars to a thrilling 9-8 come-from-behind victory over the Peninsula Panthers in front of a large crowd at the Archie Browning Sports Centre Thursday night.
The game also attracted a large number of viewers who tuned into the video broadcast on www.fasthockey.com.
At the 15-second mark of extra time, Victoria went on its eighth and final power play when defenseman Sean Buchanan was called for hooking Walton. Alone at the side of the net, Walton banged home a Graham Zagrodney rebound for his second goal of the game and 19th goal of the season.
The bizarre ending overshadowed a spectacular performance from Panthers forward Alex Milligan who tied his season-high four goals. Milligan last posted four goals was against the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Dec. 21.
Both teams were tied 3-3 after one period and 5-5 after two before the Cougars erased a three-goal deficit en route to their sixth straight win.
The comeback started at 7:28 of the third period when Blake Roney scored his second goal of the game from Zagrodney and Ryan Carson. Watching the proceedings from the sin bin was Buchanan who had 83 seconds remaining in his tripping penalty.
Roney completed the hat trick, shovelling the puck past starter Joey Karrer to get the Cougars to within a goal at 14:30.
Just under a minute later, Micheal Fretz tied the game at 8-8 after he raced up the left wing and fired a shot into the right side of the net.
Victoria (33-8-1-1) opened the scoring at 8:38 of the first period when Roney converted a Carson rebound into a goal on the power play. 19 seconds earlier, Des Bast was ejected from the game after he checked Robert Zadra into the board from behind.
Braeden Pearce tied the game at 1-1 after he slid the puck under Cougars goalie Connor Beauchamp at 10:05.
Then at 13:16, Nicholas Bower beat Karrer from his off-wing.
Milligan tied the game at 13:47 before scoring the go-ahead goal at 17:52.
But the lead did not last long when Fretz tied the game at 3-3 during a three-on-one-break with 34.5 seconds remaining in the period.
Victoria head coach Mark Van Helvoirt made a goalie change to start the second period. Beauchamp, who allowed three goals on 12 shots, was replaced by Nathan Hargrave.
A power play goal from Tylor Branzen at 4:01 would put Peninsula ahead again.
Walton tied the game on a man advantage after he beat Karrer glove side at 12:39.
With five minutes remaining in the period, Panthers defenseman Matt Sheeran left the game with an upper-body injury. He did not return.
Tate Coughlin put Peninsula up 5-4 at 15:15 but an unassisted goal from Zagrodney at 16:32 would send the two teams back to their respective dressing rooms tied.
A pair of third period goals from Milligan at 1:53 and 6:10 plus a single from Branzsen 15 seconds later gave Peninsula a three-goal lead. But a pair of goals from Roney and a single from Fretz soon erased what was an insurmountable lead.
Victoria, who went 5-for-8 on the power play and 1-for-3 on the penalty kill, outshot the Panthers 36-31.
It was the first loss in ten games for Peninsula (26-11-2-3).
Fans over the age of 18 who purchase $5 worth of 50/50 tickets during the Cougars next home game will get in for only $5.
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.
Next game for Victoria is Saturday, February 1 against the Oceanside Generals. Game time at Oceanside Place, located at 830 West Island Highway, is 7:30 p.m.
1st star, Alex Milligan (Goals: 4, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Nicholas Bower (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
3rd star, Blake Roney (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)