The series between Cougars and Panthers has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster.

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Victoria Cougars_Logo

by Peter Kung

March 28, 2014, Esquimalt (ISN) – Thursday was no exception. Trailing by two goals in the third period and still by one with just under three minutes remaining in regulation, Sam McMullen of Victoria scored at 17:25 to tie the game before the Cougars won it on a power play goal from Blake Roney 1:49 into overtime.

Victoria, who won 3-2, is now one win away from clinching the VIJHL Championship and advancing to the Cyclone Taylor Cup for the third straight year.

Game 6 goes Friday in Peninsula.

For 51 minutes, the Cougars looked like a fish out of water.

Nothing was going right until a slap shot by Jordan Marciniak from the top of the left faceoff circle put Victoria on the board at 11:42. The unassisted goal, which cut the lead in half, seemed to sway momentum in favour of the Cougars.

Then with two minutes and 35-seconds remaining in regulation, McMullen tied the game at 2-2 after banging home a David Marshall rebound past Joey Karrer.

Michael Fretz, who was recently named Kirby’s Source for Sports VIJHL Player of the Week, picked up the second assist.

In overtime, Connor Beauchamp made three huge saves for Victoria. One of those saves came off the stick of Tylor Branzsen who was then penalized on the play for high-sticking Jake Stolz.

It only took 17 seconds into the penalty for the Cougars to capitalize. From the point, Graham Zagrodney unleashed a hard but accurate shot on goal. Karrer, who was making his third straight start, made the initial save but gave up a juicy rebound for Roney to gobble up and score.

Fretz added another assist to pad his lead atop the league playoff scoring race with 23 points in 14 games.

Victoria went 1-for-5 on the power play. The Panthers went 0-for-3.

Alex Milligan ended a three-game goal drought by scoring once in each of the first two periods. Picking up assists on both goals were Rylan Ball.

Shots on goal favoured Peninsula 35-32.

As the old adage goes, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts.

After a shaky start, Beauchamp settled down. Not only was he spectacular in overtime, Beauchamp came up huge early in the third period when he robbed Jordan Law on a shorthanded breakaway. The score was 2-0 in favour of the Panthers at the time of the save.

As mentioned, Game 6 goes Friday, March 28 in Peninsula. Game time at the Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.

THREE STARS:

1st star, Connor Beauchamp (Saves: 33, Save Percentage: .943)

2nd star, Blake Roney (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

3rd star, Alex Milligan (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)

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