by Peter Kung
March 10, 2014, ESQUIMALT, B.C. (ISN) – Connor Beauchamp was simply sensational for the Victoria Cougars as he stopped 33-of-34 shots in a 4-1 win over the Campbell River Storm on a partly cloudy Sunday afternoon.
The win gives the Cougars a 2-1 lead in their best-of-7 series with Game 4 set for Wednesday night in Campbell River.
In front of a large crowd at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, Beauchamp is becoming the talk of the series.
The Nanton, Alberta native has allowed only four goals in three games against the offensive-minded Storm and now owns a minuscule 1.17 goals against average and a .950 save percentage during these playoffs.
While Beauchamp was keeping the puck out of the net, Sam McMullen was 200 feet away filling the other cage with plenty of rubber.
McMullen continues to wreak havoc on defenses and opposing goaltenders, notching three more goals while also adding an assist to boot. Acquired at the Jan. 10 trade deadline, McMullen now leads all scorers with 15 playoff points.
Also lighting the lamp was Blake Roney whose goal gave the hometown Cougars a 2-0 lead early in the third period.
Trent Johnson pulled Campbell River to within one only to have McMullen respond 36 seconds later.
Victoria had a goal disallowed at the 14:07 mark of the first period when referees Shayne Alyward and Steve Brown both ruled that the puck was knocked in with a high stick.
Unfazed, the Cougars drew first blood for the first time in the series when McMullen cut in on net from his off wing and tucked the puck under Russell Sanderson with 4:57 remaining in the period.
Although there was no scoring in the middle frame, the Storm was relentless in its attack. They outshot Victoria 14-4 in the period and received three power play opportunities which resulted in six full minutes of precious power play time.
But the No. 1 ranked penalty kill during the regular season did its job; blocking shots and clearing pucks out of harm’s way. Campbell River finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage and is now 0-for-10 in the series.
Their best scoring chance came midway through the period. After taking a cross-crease feed, Johnson was robbed by Beauchamp who slid post-to-post to make the save.
The Cougars doubled their lead after Roney was set up by McMullen at 5:05 of the third period.
Johnson, who was denied of a goal earlier, blasted a point shot through traffic past Beauchamp at 8:40.
But at 9:16, McMullen beat Sanderson with a well-placed backhander to put Victoria up 3-1.
Brendan deVries, who won the Doug Morton Trophy after tallying a league high 88 points, got in behind the Cougars defense with two and a half minutes left to play. However, the Storm sniper was denied by Beauchamp.
Then on the last rush of the game, Ryan Carson fed the puck over to McMullen who completed the hat-trick with 1.1 seconds remaining.
Victoria, who managed only 20 shots on goal, went 0-for-2 on the power play.
The hit of the night belonged to Storm forward Gavin Rauser who sent Jordan Marciniak flying backwards over the boards.
Robert Zadra, named the game’s third star, was blocking shots like there was no tomorrow.
As mentioned, Game 4 goes Wednesday, March 12 in Campbell River. Game time at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena, located at 225 South Dogwood Street, is 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s game can be heard and viewed online at www.fasthockey.com.
1st star, Connor Beauchamp (Saves: 33, Save Percentage: .971)
2nd star, Sam McMullen (Goals: 3, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Robert Zadra (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)