Victoria Cougars put winning streak on the line versus Saanich

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(ISN) – The Victoria Cougars and Saanich Braves meet for the second time in less than a week this coming Thursday.

Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.

Lane Van de Wetering scored the game winner at 3:56 of double overtime to lift the visiting Cougars to a 4-3 win in Saanich last Friday.

Victoria has won all six meetings versus the Braves this season, outscoring them 33-5 in the process.

But do not let the previous performances (two goals in five games) against the Cougars scare you off. Saanich, who has picked up points in three straight games, came close to knocking off the three-time defending VIJHL champions.

On Friday, the upstart Braves built up leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before Victoria battled back to win the game in extra time.

Seamus Maguire scored twice while Jack Rachwalski had the other for Saanich. Meanwhile, the Cougars received a pair of goals from Wade Johnson and one each from Brett Lervold and Van de Wetering.

In goal for the Braves was Brandon Ward who made 27 saves. Grant Payne started for Victoria but was pulled midway through the second period after allowing three goals on 16 shots. Getting the win in relief was Anthony Ciurro who made 17 saves for his league leading 13th win of the season.

Both teams went 2-for-5 with the man advantage.

The Cougars, who come into Thursday night’s game with a record of 22-3-1-0, sits atop of the South Island Division with 45 points and is currently tied with the Campbell River Storm for first place overall in the VIJHL standings.

That could change by Thursday as the Storm takes on the Westshore Wolves at The Q Centre on Wednesday.

Sam McMullen, who extended his point streak to 14 games last Friday, leads the VIJHL scoring race with 15 goals and 30 assists. Extending his goal streak to nine games was Johnson.

Saanich, who comes into Thursday night’s game with a record of 8-14-0-5, sits fourth in the five-team South Island Division with 21 points. They trail the third-place Islanders by one point but do have one game in hand on Kerry Park.

Nyshan Basra, who was involved in last year’s blockbuster deal which sent McMullen to the Cougars, has recorded at least a point in his last seven games. On three-game point streaks are Maguire and Rachwalski.

There is no question as to who the No. 1 goalie in Saanich is. Ward started nine of the team’s ten games in November.

Victoria, who has won its last four games, begins a three-game home stand starting this Thursday against the Braves.

In other action around the VIJHL on Thursday, Westshore travels to Peninsula to take on the Panthers while the Nanaimo Buccaneers play host to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.

STANDINGS: Victoria – 1st place, 45 points, South Island Division. Saanich – 4th place, 21 points, South Island Division

OFFENSE: Victoria – 3rd place, 4.58 goals for per game. Saanich – 8th place, 2.89 goals for per game

DEFENSE: Victoria – 1st place, 1.77 goals against per game. Saanich – 6th place, 4.15 goals against per game

TEAM LEADERS: Victoria – Michael Fretz, 20 goals; Sam McMullen, 30 assists; Sam McMullen, 45 points; John Kretzschmar, 44 penalty minutes. Saanich – Nyshan Basra, 15 goals; Alex Schlueter, 13 assists; Nyshan Basra, 27 points; Ben Meek, Cam MacKay, 63 penalty minutes

GOALTENDERS: Victoria – Anthony Ciurro (1.37 goals against average, .938 save percentage); Grant Payne (2.09 goals against average, .907 save percentage). Saanich – Brandon Ward (3.17 goals against average, .895 save percentage); Jason Stewart (5.30 goals against average, .846 save percentage)

POWER PLAY: Victoria – 2nd place, 34-for-146, 23.29 percent. Saanich – 7th place, 23-for-161, 14.29 percent

PENALTY KILL: Victoria – 1st place, 114-for-125, 91.20 percent. Saanich – 5th place, 120-for-146, 82.19 percent

SEASON SERIES: Victoria leads, 6-0-0-0

September 4, 2014. Saanich Braves 0 @ Victoria Cougars 9
September 11, 2014. Saanich Braves 0 @ Victoria Cougars 5
October 2, 2014. Saanich Braves 0 @ Victoria Cougars 5
October 3, 2014. Victoria Cougars 6 @ Saanich Braves 1
November 5, 2014. Victoria Cougars 4 @ Saanich Braves 1
November 28, 2014. Victoria Cougars 4 @ Saanich Braves 3 (2OT)
January 30, 2015. Victoria Cougars @ Saanich Braves

HOME/AWAY RECORDS: Victoria – Home, 9-1-1-0. Saanich – Away, 1-6-0-4

STREAKS: Victoria, 4-0-0-0. Saanich, 1-0-0-2

LAST TEN: Victoria, 9-1-0-0. Saanich, 3-5-0-2