By Peter Kung
ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars used a four-goal second period to come from behind and beat the Kerry Park Islanders 6-3 on Thursday night.
It was the season opener for both teams.
Zack Smith scored the only goal of the first period to give the visiting Islanders a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
After that, it was all Victoria.
PJ Heger got the Cougars on the board when his sharp-angled wrist shot beat Ty Rennie short side at the 1:36 mark.
Victoria doubled its lead less than three minutes later. Dom Kolbeins, who recorded 75 points in 39 regular season games for the West Sound Warriors of the Northern Pacific Hockey League last year, roofed the puck into the top of the net.
The game slowly began to get away from the Islanders. A checking-from-behind penalty to Tanner Browne on Nathan Looysen at 4:45 put Victoria on the power play. And with 27 seconds remaining in the penalty, Cody Hodges skated out front and beat Rennie from the slot.
Rennie assumed the starting role from Leighton Williams who went to play Junior A in Ontario.
Kerry Park cut the lead to one when Patrick Poets fooled Anthony Ciurro at 6:48.
Nico Somerville, who doesn’t turn 17-years-old until April, scored his very first VIJHL regular season goal after he gobbled up a loose puck in front of Rennie to make the score 4-2.
Penalties to Looysen and John Kretzschmar 60 seconds apart gave the Islanders a much needed five-on-three advantage.
Victoria was able to kill the first penalty but not the second. With Kretzschmar still in the sin bin, Ryan Paisley pulled Kerry Park to within one for the second time in the game after he tipped home a David Bittner point shot at 13:52.
Another power play goal, this time from Brett Lervold midway through the third period, made it 5-3.
The Cougars would close out the scoring on another power play when Nick Lyons pinched in from the point and wired the puck past Rennie at 13:49.
Ciurro made 17 saves for the win.
Taking the loss was Rennie who faced 36 shots.
Victoria went 3-for-7 on the power play while the Islanders scored once on seven chances with the man advantage.
Kameron Fink, one of five American-born players on the Cougars roster, earned first star honours after finishing the game with a pair of assists. The native of Aurora, Colorado also made the hit of the night after he flattened Kyle Green at centre ice.
Kerry Park received a scare early in the game when Abe Lamontagne could not get up off the ice and had to crawl 85 feet to the player’s bench. After receiving treatment from athletic therapist Breanna Hynes, Lamontagne was able to return to the game.
Keenan Eddy finished with two helpers for the Islanders.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins dropped the puck during a ceremonial faceoff prior to the game.
In Nanaimo, Grayden McInnes and Grant Iles recorded three points apiece and Paul Broadbent made 26 saves to lead the Comox Valley Glacier Kings to a 6-2 win over the Buccaneers.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, September 11 against the Peninsula Panthers. Game time at the Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.
1st star, Kameron Fink (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)
2nd star, Ryan Buse (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Brett Lervold (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)