by Peter Kung
March 14, 2014, ESQUIMALT, B.C. (ISN) – John Kretzschmar scored the game winner at 1:26 of overtime to propel the Victoria Cougars to a 5-4 win over the Campbell River Storm and a berth in the VIJHL Championship Series.
Carrying the puck up the right side, Kretzschmar cut to the high slot where he blasted a howitzer over the glove of Storm goaltender Jack Surgenor.
Immediately following the goal, Surgenor bent down to one knee while Kretzschmar was getting mobbed by his teammates.
Campbell River, who outshot the Cougars 30-24 overall, battled hard all night.
The two teams were tied 2-2 after one period before Victoria jumped out to a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes. And with time running down on their Cinderella season, Curtis Toneff created a turnover in the offensive zone before beating goalie Nathan Hargrave with 2:34 remaining in regulation.
Victoria started the game like gangbusters.
Sirens and horns went off inside the Archie Browning Sports Centre when Wade Johnson scored 32 seconds in. However, the goal was waived off and play continued. But at the next stoppage of play, officials Mike Christians, Jordy Davis, Curtis Craig, and Jeff MacAdams huddled to talk about the previous play. And after a lengthy discussion, Christians pointed to centre ice signalling a goal.
Then on a give-and-go, David Marshall scored from Michael Fretz at 5:23. All of a sudden it was 2-0 for the home side.
Penalties to Robert Zadra and Marshall put the Storm on a two man advantage for 68 seconds. And with Marshall still in the sin bin, Toneff wired a point shot at 10:47 past Connor Beauchamp.
It looked as though the Cougars would storm out to a 3-1 lead after Surgenor misplayed a Jake Stolz dump in off the side glass. But the goal was disallowed due to an offside.
Then with 3:39 remaining in the period, Gage Colpron cruised in on net and beat Beauchamp top shelf.
Still feeling the effects of an illness that sidelined him in Game 4, Beauchamp was replaced by Hargrave in net to begin the second period.
Johnson scored his second goal of the game at the 19 second mark to give Victoria a 3-2 lead. But at 10:14, four seconds after a penalty to Graham Zagrodney had expired; Zack Sanderson tipped home an Alex Brewer point shot.
However, the Cougars would restore their one goal lead on an individual effort from Marshall at 15:55.
There was no scoring until Toneff, who will be attending Selkirk College next year, tied the game at 17:26 of the third period.
Both teams had several more scoring chances before the end of regulation.
Then came the blast from Kretzschmar that would send Victoria to the VIJHL Championship Series for the fourth year in a row.
Campbell River went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Cougars went 0-for-2.
Surgenor made 19 saves in a losing cause for the Storm.
Brendan deVries, who won the scoring title during the regular season, was held off the score sheet yet again. He and teammate Brayden Taekema were held pointless in Games 2, 3, 4, and again tonight. Both players combined for 161 points during the regular season.
Victoria will face the winner of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings-Peninsula Panthers series.
1st star, John Kretzschmar (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Wade Johnson (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Curtis Toneff (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)