(ISN) – ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars pulled out an 8-4 win over the Westshore Wolves on Thursday after scoring five unanswered third period goals.
With the score knotted at 4-4 and the game destined for overtime, Victoria rattled off four goals in a matter of 44 seconds.
The win gives the Cougars (35-5-1-0) a one point lead on Campbell River in the race for the Andy Hebenton Trophy.
Both Victoria and the Storm have seven games remaining.
Lane Van de Wetering opened the floodgates with his second goal of the game at 14:39. Then 11 seconds later, PJ Heger passed the puck out front to Micheal Fretz who one timed it past Chris Smith.
The Cougars went ahead 7-4 at 15:13 on a goal from Heger. And before public address announcer Pat Thomas could finish announcing the Heger goal, Devin Mackey scored his first goal as a Cougar on the power play ten seconds later.
Smith, who shutout the Saanich Braves in his last start, was pulled after allowing eight goals on 47 shots.
After Connor Krupa and Fretz exchanged first period goals, the game got heated in the middle frame, starting with a confrontation between James Severs of the Wolves and Nathan Looysen of Victoria.
But before the altercation, John Kretzschmar and Corey Peterson traded goals at 1:22 and 11:30 respectively.
75 seconds after Peterson tied the game, the Cougars received a man advantage for four minutes. Severs was assessed a double minor for high-sticking while Looysen and Krupa each received coincidental minors.
Victoria hit the goal post three times before Robert Zadra had his point shot redirected in by Sam McMullen at 16:07. The goal gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead entering the second intermission.
A weak shot from a bad angle by Jordan Martin at 1:23 of the third period would tie the game. After the goal, Grant Payne slammed his stick on the ice in frustration.
25 seconds later, Spencer Preece fired the puck off the far post and in to give the Wolves (25-15-1-1) their first lead.
But at 8:26, Van de Wetering would the game at 4-4 after banging home an Austin Wilk rebound.
Payne made 18 saves for his league leading 18th win of the season. In relief, Blake Pearson stopped the only shot he faced in four minutes and 37-seconds of work.
Victoria went 2-for-9 on the power play; meanwhile, the Wolves went 0-for-4.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL, Nolan Richardson and Carter Turnbull scored two goals apiece as the Nanaimo Buccaneers upended the Oceanside Generals 8-3 in front of 165 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for the Cougars is Friday, January 30 against the Saanich Braves. Game time at the Pearkes Recreation Centre, located at 3100 Tillicum Road, is 6:30 p.m.
1st star, Devin Mackey (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
2nd star, Michael Fretz (Goals: 2, Assists: 2)
3rd star, Austin Wilk (Goals: 0, Assists: 3)