(ISN) – ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars scored four times in the third period to come from behind to defeat the Nanaimo Buccaneers 8-7 in one of two Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League games on tap Sunday afternoon.
Wade Johnson and Nathan Looysen each scored twice for Victoria who trailed 6-4 after two periods. Also rounding out the scoring for the Cougars were Ryan Carson, John Kretzschmar, Sam McMullen, and PJ Heger.
It was the second most goals Victoria has allowed in a single game all season. Back on September 13, the Cougars gave up eight goals in an 8-3 loss to the Campbell River Storm.
Nanaimo, who dropped its second game in a row, got three goals apiece from Trent Bell and 16-year-old rookie sensation Carter Turnbull. Adding a single was Nik Malenica.
It was not a good afternoon for both goaltenders who made their respective cages look more like soccer nets.
The win moves Victoria (34-5-1-0) to within a point of the league-leading Storm for first place overall in the VIJHL standings. The Cougars do hold a game in hand on Campbell River though.
Johnson opened the scoring at 1:13 of the first period in when his slap shot beat Greg Maggio glove side.
But at 3:30, the Buccaneers tied the game on an unassisted goal from Bell.
A slashing penalty to Turnbull put Victoria on the power play at 14:06. Three-quarters of a minute later, Carson doubled the Cougars lead with a well-placed backhander. Victoria went ahead 3-1 when Austin Wilk had his point shot tipped in by Kretzschmar at 16:06.
Wilk was moved to the back end because of the absences of Nick Lyons and Aiden Silzer-Hooker.
Nanaimo went on its second man advantage of the period when Kretzschmar was sent off the ice for hooking. Stymied on their first attempt, the Buccaneers pulled to within one at 18:35 on a power play goal from Turnbull.
There was no scoring until the 10:25 mark of the second period. With Malenica in the sin bin for hooking, Turnbull scored shorthanded to tie the game at 3-3.
Nanaimo (20-15-2-4) leads the VIJHL with 12 shorthanded goals.
Just over a minute and a half later, Johnson was whistled for roughing, sending the Buccaneers back to the power play. On the ensuing man advantage, Malenica, who began the season with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, gave Nanaimo a 4-3 lead at 12:31.
Then at 13:03, Bell fired the puck over the catching glove of Grant Payne during an odd man rush to give the Buccaneers a two goal advantage.
McMullen made it 5-4 after redirecting a Ryan Buse point shot at 14:41. But just over two minutes later, Turnbull restored Nanaimo’s two goal lead when he banged home a Rowan Siider rebound.
What was said by Cougars head coach Mark Van Helvoirt to his players during the second intermission worked like a charm.
Victoria exploded for four unanswered goals to take an 8-6 lead.
Heger opened the floodgates at 1:51 for his first goal as a Cougar. Looysen tied the game when his shot found the back of the net at 3:43. Then at 9:45, McMullen centered the puck out to Looysen for his second goal of the game. Johnson gave Victoria a two goal advantage when his shot from the inner hash marks beat Maggio high over his glove at 12:06.
After the Johnson goal, Maggio slouched down on all fours and then followed it up by banging his stick on the ice in frustration.
All four goals came while Buccaneers leading scorer Jordan Levesque was in the penalty box serving a ten-minute misconduct that carried over from the second period.
Bell would then score at 17:55 to make it an 8-7 game.
After taking a timeout and replacing Maggio with an extra attacker, Nanaimo came inches away from tying the game when Turnbull’s shot rang off the goal post.
Things got dicey for the Cougars when Johnson was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking with one minute and 11-seconds remaining. Playing 6-on-4, the Buccaneers came close but could not find the target.
Payne stopped 17 shots for his 17th win of the season while Maggio made 41 saves for Nanaimo who has allowed 17 goals in its last two games.
Victoria went 1-for-4 on the power play. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers scored two times on six chances with the man advantage.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL, Braedan Cross scored twice and David Bittner had three assists as the Kerry Park Islanders downed the Peninsula Panthers 6-2 in front of 125 at the Kerry Park Recreation Centre.
Next game for the Cougars is Thursday, January 29 against the Westshore Wolves. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
1st star, John Kretzschmar (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
2nd star, Carter Turnbull (Goals: 3, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Robert Zadra (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)