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Peter Kung 

(ISN) – ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Nathan Looysen scored twice and added three assists against his former team as the Victoria Cougars doubled up on the Peninsula Panthers 6-3 on Thursday night.

The win moves Victoria to within a point of the league-leading Campbell River Storm for first place overall in the VIJHL standings. However, the Cougars do have one game in hand on Campbell River.

Looysen, who was dealt to Victoria in exchange for defenseman Garnett Roberts, now has ten points in six games since changing uniform colours in mid-December.

The Cougars led 2-0 after one period and 5-3 after two.

Wade Johnson scored his 30th goal of the season at 11:12 of the opening frame when he took a great feed from Looysen and roofed the puck past Alex Olson who was solid all night long for Peninsula.

Then from the top of the blue paint, Looysen used a nice backhand shot to score on Olson at 15:39.

With Victoria leading 2-0, both teams combined for six goals in a wild second period. The Panthers, who had their four game winning streak snapped, never trailed by more than two goals until the closing seconds of the game.

And as soon as Peninsula would score, the Cougars countered.

Ty Hermsen cut the lead in half at 2:25 of the second period with his first ever VIJHL goal. The 17-year-old affiliate player, who was playing in his first VIJHL game, banged home a Conner Mowatt rebound past Grant Payne. Immediately following the goal, Mowatt collected the puck and gave it to Hermsen.

It did not take long for Victoria (33-5-1-0) to respond. At 4:15, Michael Fretz hit the 30-goal plateau as well after he banged in his own rebound. Assisting on the goal were Ryan Carson and Devin Mackey who recorded his first point as a Cougar.

Mitch Newman of Peninsula cut the deficit to 3-2 when his deflection off a Sean Buchanan point shot beat Payne at 10:15.

Again, Victoria answered. 30 seconds later, Johnson had his pass tipped in by Sam McMullen. The goal, which was the first of two for McMullen, was scored with Buchanan in the penalty box.

Spencer Loverock pulled the Panthers (13-28-0-1) to within a goal for the third time in the game when his snap shot beat Payne to his far side at 12:44.

History would again repeat itself. The Cougars went on another power play at 17:50 when Hermsen was called for slashing. Just needing 27 seconds to add to their lead, McMullen capped off a pretty passing play started by Fretz and Looysen.

Victoria iced the win on an empty net goal from Looysen with 35.3 seconds remaining in regulation.

Payne made 19 saves for his 16th win of the season. Taking the loss was Olson who faced 40 shots in 57 minutes and 49 seconds of work.

The Cougars went 2-for-4 on the power play; meanwhile, Peninsula went 0-for-3.

Playing a physical game all night, Roberts was assessed an automatic game misconduct when he hit Aiden Silzer-Hooker from behind with less than five minutes to play in regulation.

One week after being embarrassed on home ice by the Storm, Victoria put forth a good effort.

Elsewhere in the VIJHL, the Saanich Braves and Nanaimo Buccaneers battled to a 1-1 tie at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

Next game for the Cougars is Friday, January 23 against the Peninsula Panthers. Game time at the Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.


1st star, Nathan Looysen (Goals: 2, Assists: 3)

2nd star, Nathan Lum (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)

3rd star, Sam McMullen (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)