(ISN) – ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Brett Lervold recorded his second hat trick in as many games to lead the Victoria Cougars to a 6-1 win over the Oceanside Generals on a windy Thursday evening.
Victoria extended its winning streak to seven games while improving its overall record to 25-3-1-0.
After struggling in two of his last three starts, Grant Payne had an impressive bounce-back game, stopping 25 shots.
Wade Johnson extended his point streak to 12 games with a pair of goals and an assist. Also lighting the lamp was Michael Fretz who along with Sam McMullen finished the night with three points apiece.
The Cougars were forced to start the game a man down after referee Jarrett Taylor assessed the South Island Division leaders a delay of game penalty. Fortunately for Victoria, its top-ranked penalty kill in the VIJHL bested the worst-ranked power play.
Brendan Billota opened the scoring for the Generals at 5:38 of the first period after converting a Travis Flug rebound off the end glass into a goal.
The score remained 1-0 in favour of Oceanside until Lervold hooked up with McMullen and Johnson with 58.2 seconds remaining until the first intermission.
Generals’ goalie David Anderson was standing on his head until Victoria pulled ahead with two second period goals.
Standing on the doorstep, Lervold banged home a Ryan Vorster rebound at 12:35. Fretz gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead at 16:11 when he sniped the puck past Anderson.
A slashing penalty to Fretz and a bench minor for too many men on the ice shortly thereafter put Oceanside on a two-man advantage for one minute and 36-seconds. And like so many times this season, the Generals were unable to find the back of the net.
Payne made his best save of the game with only 33.7 seconds remaining in the period when he robbed Flug from the top of the blue paint.
After Oceanside, who dropped to 5-24-1-1 on the season, failed to capitalize on its two-man advantage, it was the Cougars turn.
Back-to-back penalties to Keegan Kessle and Jacob Longmore at 3:59 and 5:00 of the third period put the Generals behind the eight ball. Victoria had little trouble making it 4-1 when Fretz had his shot redirected in by Johnson.
And with his second goal of the night and 21st goal of the season, Johnson padded the lead at 17:26. Then with 37.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Lervold completed the hat trick.
Assisting on the Cougars first, fifth, and sixth goals was McMullen who extended his point streak to 17 games. The five-year veteran currently leads the VIJHL in scoring with 56 points; seven ahead of Will McNamara of the Campbell River Storm.
PJ Heger made his debut for Victoria after being acquired from the Generals a couple of days ago.
The Cougars, who peppered Anderson with 39 shots which included 16 of those in the third period alone, went 1-for-4 with the man advantage and a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Thursday’s game marked the fourth and final meeting between these two non-divisional foes. Victoria won all four games by a combined score of 22-7.
In Nanaimo, Campbell River scored six unanswered goals to beat the hometown Buccaneers 7-3 in front of 235 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, December 12 against the Peninsula Panthers. Game time at the Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.
1st star, Brett Lervold (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Grant Payne (Saves: 25, Save Percentage: .962)
3rd star, Wade Johnson (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)