Cougars Have Braves Number

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

October 3, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – For the second straight night, the Victoria Cougars defeated the Saanich Braves by a 5-goal deficit, this time stopping the Braves by a score of 6-1 Friday night in VIJHL action at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

Victoria’s Sam McMullen, who had a goal on the evening, carries the puck through the neutral zone Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win marks the fourth win of the year already for the Cougars over the struggling Braves, including Thursday night’s 5-0 win and victories in previous meetings of 9-0 and 5-0, all of which came at Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt.

One might suppose that the good news for the Braves out of that, is they have already played 4 of their 8 scheduled regular season games against the Cougars, three of which have been on Cougar’s home ice.

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Victoria’s Cameron Kovesdi moves the puck through centre ice against Victoria on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The bad news of course is that they still have to play four more against the Cougars and it is clear that the Braves will need to pick things up a notch to keep pace with the defending VIJHL champions, as in the four games to date, the Cougars have outscored the Braves by a total of 25-1.

The Braves only goal this season against the Cougars – another bit of good news – came mid-game Friday when the Braves Nick Guerra completed a pretty end-to-end rush by flipping the puck up and over the shoulder of Cougars goaltender Grant Payne.

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Saanich’s Nick Guerra would finish this rush with a goal, the Braves only goal against the Cougars in four games so far this season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That made the score 4-1 at the time and it is as close as the Braves, who did manage to throw 24 shots at the net during the game, would get.

Like they did Thursday night, scoring 47 seconds into the game, the Cougars struck early again Friday night when Ryan Vorster’s slap shot from the point eluded Braves starter Brandon Ward just 56 seconds into the game.

Ryan Carson would make that 2-0 with 6:50 to play, when he took a nice feed in the slot and snapped one home, giving the Cougars a lead that would hold until the first intermission.

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Victoria’s Kyle Truax moves the puck out of his zone Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the second, Robert Zadra, at 1:06 and Kyle Ljunggren at 4:01 would propel the Coygars into a 4-0 lead before Guerra would respond for Saanich.

With 4:09 left in the period, Carson would jump on a loose puck to score his second of the game and then, making matters worse for the Braves, the Cougar’s Sam McMullen would cap off a nice 2-on-1 play and score with 2.5 seconds left in the period to give Victoria a 6-1 lead into the break.

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Victoria’s Ryan Carson (left), who would have two goals, and Saanich’s Scott Henderson (right) battle for position following a faceoff Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A scoreless third period made that the final score, with the Cougars outshooting the Braves for the game 38-24.

The win moves the Cougars record to 7-1-1-0 and gives them 15 points, one back of Westshore for first place in the South Division.

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Victoria’s Kyle Ljunggren, who would score his first goal of the season Friday, moves the puck across the centre-line under pressure from Saanich’s Quinn Miller (22)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Braves loss drops their record to 0-8-0-1 on the season and moves their regular season winless streak to 22 games. Their next chance – and a good one – to snap that streak will come next Wednesday night when the Braves host the 2-7-0-0 Oceanside Generals at Pearkes Arena. Puck drop in the first Wednesday night game of the season is 7:30 pm.

Game Notes: The Braves made some roster changes over the past week. Gone are forwards Josh Poland and Ryan Friesen. Returning to the team are Ben Meek, who last played for the Peninsula Panthers, and Nick Guerra, who is on a temporary return from the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers. Guerra is a casualty of a new rule in the BCHL and Junior ranks that require players who are going to be placed on an “Affiliate Player” card with a higher team, to first play 5 games with their lower team in order to be eligible. The Clippers want to keep Guerra on their reserve roster as an AP, but as he last played for the Braves, he needs to complete 5 games with the Braves this season in order for him to be eligible for AP status with the Clippers.

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