1DX 8412

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 5, 2014, Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves took a 2-1 lead into the third period Friday, only to see the Peninsula Panthers score four unanswered goals and come away with a 5-2 win in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action at Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

Saanich’s Alex Schlueter (left) and Peninsula’s Reece Costain (right) battle for position in front of Saanich goalie Brandon Ward (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The loss put a damper on the Braves annual Pink in the Rink game, which raises funds to help support cancer research.

It was the second night in a row that a bad third period cost the Braves, having surrendered five third period goals Thursday night in a 7-1 loss to the Victoria Cougars.

In that game, the Braves trailed 2-1 heading into the third, but on Friday, thanks to second period goals from Evan Horvath (his 8th) and Jack Rachwalski (his 5th), the Braves led the Panthers 2-1 at the second break, with Peninsula’s Brett Sjerven scoring earlier in the first to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

1DX 8441
Saanich’s Garrett Stankoven moves the puck out of his end Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the third, a period that saw the Panthers outshoot the Braves 11 to 8, the Panthers’ comeback began with a goal from Sean Buchanan at 4:04 that tied things at 2-2. Goals from Josh Poland (10:19) and Kiefer Evans (13:24) gave the Panthers a 2-goal cushion, before Nathan Looysen put the final nail in the coffin with an empty netter with 1:53 to play.

1DX 8482
Saanich’s Evan Horvath celebrates his second period goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Panthers Alex Olson got the start in net and stopped 28 of 30 for the win. The Braves started Brandon Ward for the second night in a row and he made 33 saves in the losing effort.

With the win, the Panthers improve to 7-22-0-1 and climb to within 6 points of the Braves for 4th in the South Division, just one game back in the win column. They also move three points ahead of Oceanside for last place overall, important because the last place team will finish out of the playoff picture. The Braves fall to 8-16-0-5 and once again fail to gain any ground on the Kerry Park Islanders who remain one point ahead of the Braves for third.

1DX 8503
Peninsula’s Spencer Loverock carries the puck through the neutral zone Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Braves now hit the road for three games, beginning with a tilt with the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday December 10th and then a trip to the always tough “Brindy” when they travel to Campbell River to face the Storm on Friday the 12th. On Sunday the 14th, the Braves complete their road trip with a game in Mill Bay against the Islanders, which is a make-up game for the game cancelled in early November.