ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars ended their mini slump in style on Thursday.
Nathan Looysen had three goals and two assists and Cody Hodges had one goal and four assists as Victoria pummelled the Saanich Braves 8-0 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre.
Entering Thursday’s contest, Mark Van Helvoirt and his troops had only a win and a tie in their last four games. It was a good bounce back game for the Cougars whose lackluster performance against the Westshore Wolves the night before resulted in a disappointing 4-2 loss.
The win moves Victoria (7-2-1-0) three points ahead of the second-placed Wolves and four points ahead of the third-place Braves in the South Island Division standings. All three teams have played ten games.
The Cougars led 4-0 after one period and 6-0 after two.
Riley Mathieson, who backstopped Saanich to a 4-2 win over Victoria two weeks ago, was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots.
The Cougars struck early, scoring four of those goals in a span of eight minutes.
Brandon Tutte got Victoria on the board at 4:07 after he redirected an Austin Wilk wrist shot past Mathieson. Then at 6:02, Mitch Moloney unloaded a howitzer from the point to double the Cougars lead.
The onslaught continued at 9:22 when Looysen pounced all over a Hodges rebound to make it 3-0. And then at 12:15, Hodges beat a sprawling Mathieson top shelf.
An emergency call-up by the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks two weeks ago, Mathieson was replaced by 16-year-old rookie Bryce Schiebel.
The Cougars, still without the services of goaltender Sean Wendlandt and forwards PJ Heger, Liam Kinshella, John Kretzschmar, and Lane Vandewetering, outshot Saanich 18-2 in that period.
Looysen extended the lead at 7:32 of the second period when his shot from the slot rang off the iron and in. Then at 13:08, a backhander off the stick of Wilk gave Victoria a 6-0 lead.
Sprung loose on a shorthanded breakaway, Looysen notched his third goal of the night and fifth point of the game when his shot ricocheted off the goal post and in at 10:24 of the third period.
Ryan Buse, who had a strong game defensively, rounded out the scoring with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation after skating from one end of the ice to the other.
Schiebel stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced in relief of Mathieson.
Anthony Ciurro was not tested much, turning aside all 14 shots for his first shutout of the season. His best save came late in the second period when he reached back and stole one as Evan Horvath attempted to slide the puck into a wide open net.
Saanich’s top line of Brandon Fushimi, Jack Rachwalski, and Nick Kean were bottled up throughout the game and could not get anything going.
Both teams were 0-for on the power play. Victoria finished 0-for-7 while the Braves went 0-for-3.
Defenseman Nico Somerville of the Cougars was unavailable after he got called up by the Victoria Grizzlies for their British Columbia Hockey League game versus the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The Braves (5-4-1-0), who have now been shut out in back-to back games, have not scored in 127 minutes and four seconds. Their last goal was scored at the 12:56 mark of the third period by Quinn Miller back on September 27.
In the Hub City, Chad Bell scored at 4:28 of overtime to lift the Nanaimo Buccaneers to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the North Island Division leading Campbell River Storm.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, October 9 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: 3, Assists: 2)
2nd star, Brandon Tutte (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Mitch Moloney (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)