ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Comox Valley Glacier Kings have only themselves to blame for their 5-4 loss to the Victoria Cougars on Thursday night.
Trailing 4-3 near the midway point of the third period, Justin Mirabelli received an automatic game misconduct for checking James Scott from behind. That needless penalty cost Comox Valley dearly.
On the ensuing power play, Ryan Vorster fed the puck to Ryan Carson who in the blink of an eye spotted a wide open Cody Hodges. Loading up, Hodges buried a one-timer past six-foot-four goalie Paul Broadbent.
Refusing to quit, the Glacier Kings made it a one goal game after Brandon McReynolds rang the puck off the crossbar and in during a breakaway. That goal came with just under ten minutes remaining in regulation.
The win by Victoria avenged a 4-3 loss two weeks ago in Courtenay.
It was a sloppy game by both teams in all facets.
The Cougars (15-4-1-0) opened the scoring at 8:35 of the opening period when Hodges batted a cross ice feed out of the air from Nathan Looysen. Watching the proceedings from the sin bin was Ty Madden who was sent off the ice for slashing only 15 seconds earlier.
Grayden McInnes tied the game after making a nice deke on netminder Anthony Ciurro at 17:17. It was the first shot on goal by Comox Valley who was outshot 22-2 in a lopsided period.
The Glacier Kings went ahead at 5:21 of the middle frame when Jake McKenzie snapped the puck past the outstretched arm of Ciurro.
Just as Comox Valley (9-7-0-3) appeared to find its legs and was beginning to carry the play, Dom Kolbeins caught Broadbent by complete surprise with a wraparound at 8:04.
Then at 15:35, Taylor Leger restored the Cougars lead.
Having taken no penalties to this point, Leger and Austin Wilk were penalized 54 seconds apart giving the Glacier Kings an extended two-man advantage.
Under siege, Ciurro made four saves until McInnes buried his second goal of the game to make it 3-3.
After getting Brett Lervold back from an upper body injury that kept him out of the Victoria lineup for nine games, it appears that Wilk may be lost for an extended period of time.
Away from the play, Jordan Bautista dropped Wilk with a high elbow to the head at the 3:17 mark of the third period. Woozy from the hit, Wilk immediately went to the Cougars dressing room.
Coming to the aid of his teammate, Kameron Fink dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe with Bautista. Winning by unanimous decision was Fink who got into his first VIJHL fight.
In addition to his fighting major, ten minute misconduct, and automatic game misconduct, Bautista only received a two minute minor for his deliberate check to the head. The home crowd at the Archie Browning Sports Centre was shocked at the severity of the penalty as they all thought a five minute major should have been assessed.
Wilk did not return.
On the ensuing power play, referee Aaron Keller evened things up when he sent Hodges to the penalty box for tripping.
Playing four-on-four, Looysen and Ryan Buse worked a perfect give-and-go. At 5:26, Buse slid the puck to Looysen who then returned the pass back Buse for a beautiful tip in.
Goals from Hodges and McReynolds set up a nail-biting finish.
Comox Valley pulled Broadbent and with less than five seconds remaining in regulation, Ciurro robbed McReynolds from point blank range to preserve the victory.
Shots on goal favoured the Cougars 48-30.
Victoria finished 2-for-4 on the power play; meanwhile, the Glacier Kings went 1-for-4.
Wyatt Elmer made his debut as an affiliate player for the Cougars. The 16-year-old forward who plays for the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy did not look out of place.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL, Corey Peterson scored the game winner with 90 seconds remaining in regulation and Lynden Eddy added an empty net goal as the Kerry Park Islanders upset the North Island Division leading Nanaimo Buccaneers 5-3 in front of 220 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for Victoria is Thursday, November 12 against the Kerry Park Islanders. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:00 p.m.
1st star, Cody Hodges (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Grayden McInnes (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Ryan Vorster (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)