Victoria Cougars are in the driver’s seat

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NORTH SAANICH, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars are in the driver’s seat.

Anthony Ciurro stopped all 19 shots as Victoria blanked the Peninsula Panthers 4-0 on a drizzly Friday evening.

The Cougars now lead their best-of-seven playoff series 2-0 and return home Sunday afternoon to host Game 3.

Cody Hodges, Lane Vandewetering, and Victoria product Nathan Looysen had a goal and an assist apiece while Brett Lervold, another local product, lit the lamp as well.

It was end to end action during the early going with both teams trying to score.  The Cougars had a huge edge physically – hitting everything in sight.

Looysen opened the scoring at 19:20 of the first period with his league-leading eighth playoff goal.

The Panthers management made the decision to call a technical equipment penalty against Victoria which resulted in the Cougars being down a man for the first two minutes of the second period.

That move proved futile and turned the game in the Cougars favour.  The Victoria players banged their sticks in support of their teammate while also motivating the penalty kill which easily killed off the weak decision.

Furthermore, the Cougars players began to elevate their play as the period and game progressed.  Sometimes, you should not wake a sleeping giant.

Third period goals from Lervold, a power play marker from Vandewetering, and a shorthanded empty-net goal off the stick of Hodges sealed the deal for Victoria.

Shots on goal favoured the Cougars, 32-19.

It was a textbook road game for Mark Van Helvoirt and his troops.

Victoria went 1-for-7 with the man advantage; meanwhile, the Panthers finished 0-for-5.

16-year-old defenseman Nico Somerville, who has had a great rookie campaign for the Cougars and has also suited up for the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies six times this season, had another solid outing.

In Campbell River, Alex Brewer and Gage Colpron had two points apiece to lead the hometown Storm to a 4-1 win over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.  Campbell River is now one win away from advancing to the VIJHL Final.

THREE STARS:

1st star, Anthony Ciurro (Saves:  19, Save Percentage:  1.000)

2nd star, Trevor Owens (Goals:  0, Assists:  0)

3rd star, Lane Vandewetering (Goals:  1, Assists:  1)

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