Cougars Continue Dominance Over Braves

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 4, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – After narrowly escaping with a 4-3 double overtime win over the Saanich Braves at Pearkes Arena last Friday, the Victoria Cougars made certain that would not happen again Thursday night, scoring five third period goals to cruise to a 7-1 win over the Braves in VIJHL action at Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt.

Victoria’s Michael Fretz shields the puck from Saanich defenceman Connor Birmingham during Thursday night’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Victoria has now won all seven meetings versus the Braves this season, outscoring them 40-6 in the process.

Former Brave Sam McMullen was a thorn in the side of his former team Thursday, finishing the night with a goal and four assists to earn first star honours. Other goal scorers for the Cougars included Ryan Buse, Robert Zadra, Garnett Roberts, Ryan Carson, Lane Van De Wetering and Brett Lervold. Austin Wilk added three assists, while Wade Johnson and Michael Fretz also contributed a pair of helpers each.

Cam MacKay was the lone goal scorer for the Braves.

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Saanich’s Cam MacKay (20) leads a bunch of happy Braves back to the bench after scoring the Braves lone goal in the second period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Anthony Ciurro got the start for the Cougars and stopped 17 of 18 shots for the win, his 14th of the year. Brandon Ward made 32 saves on 39 shots and was tagged with the loss, his sixth in his last seven starts.

The game was actually a very close affair through the mid-point of the third period. The Cougars opened the scoring late in the first on a power play goal from McMullen, and then goals by the Braves MacKay (at 15:56) and the Cougar’s Buse (at 17:38) in the second, saw the Cougars take a 2-1 lead and a 19-14 shot clock lead into the second break.

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Saanich goaltender Brandon Ward makes one of his 32 saves Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The third period was all Cougars however, as they outshot the Braves 20-4 and scored five times to put the game away. Roberts got things going at 2:29 to put the Cougars up 3-1 and when Zadra scored at 12:10, the Braves seemed to stop playing, giving up three more in quick succession to Lervold (12:56), Carson (16:52) and Van de Wetering (18:21) before the game was done.

With the win, the Cougars improve to 23-3-1 and sit in first in the South, six points ahead of the Westshore Wolves. The Braves fall to 8-15-0-5 and fail to gain ground on the third place Kerry Park Islanders who they trail by a single point.

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Former Brave Sam McMullen was a pain to his former teammates Thursday, getting a goal and four assists in the 7-1 Cougar win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Next up for the Braves are the Peninsula Panthers, who invade Pearkes Arena on Friday night for the annual Pink in the Rink fund raiser. Game time is 6:30 PM.

Game Notes: The Braves Nick Guerra was not in the line-up as he has moved up to the Junior A Nanaimo Clippers full time for the remainder of the season. Mackenzie Valentine and Conner Allan were also not in the line-up. The Braves also made a minor roster move during the week, releasing goaltender Jason Stewart and acquiring goaltender Riley Mathieson from the Oceanside Generals.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.