ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Ryan Carson scored three times as the Victoria Cougars ripped the Peninsula Panthers on Sunday afternoon, 9-3, at the Archie Browning Sports Centre.
Victoria is now one win away from advancing to the VIJHL Championship Series for the sixth year in a row.
Game 4 goes Monday night in Peninsula.
Carson kicked off the goal scoring parade at 14:15 of the first period when he took a backhanded pass from Jordan Passmore and wired the puck over the catching glove of Alex Olson.
Just before the goal, John Kretzschmar hammered Mitch Moloney into the half wall sending the Panthers defenseman immediately to the dressing room while the play was going on. Moloney came back in the second period.
21 seconds later, Peninsula forward Grayden Hohl was awarded a penalty shot after he was hauled down from behind by Kenny Britton during a breakaway. After the referee pointed to centre ice, Hohl lost control of the puck when Gregory Maggio surprised him with a poke check.
The Cougars went ahead 2-0 at 15:59. A defensive mistake allowed Victoria to enter the zone on an odd man rush. Olson was able to stop hometown product Nathan Looysen and Dom Kolbeins but not Cody Hodges who banged home the rebound.
Britton added to the lead at 17:40 when he took a pass from hometown product Akila Sato-Gaudreau and beat Olson on his second attempt.
The Panthers replied with 29.4 seconds remaining in the period off a power play deflection from Justin Post.
At 1:36 of the second period, Looysen made it 4-1 when he cut around Tyler Pang and got Olson to bite with a nifty backhand to forehand move.
There was no scoring until the 12:22 mark. On the power play, Carson ended Olson’s afternoon after his shot rang off the crossbar and in.
Olson, who hails from Langley, British Columbia, got the hook after allowing five goals on 25 shots.
The goaltending change gave Peninsula a spark as Cam Thompson batted the puck out of midair to make it 5-2 at 15:19.
Ryan Vorster, who set the tone with thunderous hits on Trevor Owens and Thompson early in the game, snuck in from the point to tip a Looysen pass behind Shawn Parkinson at 3:53 of the third period.
Completing the hat trick was Carson at 10:59. On the power play, Carson took a pass from Austin Wilk and wired the puck top shelf from the slot knocking Parkinson’s water bottle off the net.
Victoria, reaping the benefits of trading Brandon Tutte to the Westshore Wolves for Britton back in November, was rewarded again when the six-foot-one, 195-pound power forward scored his second goal of the game at 13:53 after tipping home a Bryton Beattie point shot.
Thompson cut the deficit to 8-3 with his second goal of the game at 17:39.
And with 72 ticks remaining in regulation, hometown product Brett Lervold beat Parkinson far side for his third goal in as many games. Ryan Lawson and fellow hometown product Kurtis Gamble picked up the assists.
Parkinson made 17-of-21 saves in relief.
Tempers flared near the end of the game. After everything got sorted out, Moloney was assessed a ten-minute misconduct while Koby Hale, Ben Meyerink, and Ty Hermsen of Peninsula and Britton, Sato-Gaudreau, and hometown product Liam Kinshella of the Cougars all received roughing penalties.
Victoria finished 2-for-7 with the man advantage; meanwhile, the Panthers went 1-for-6.
Maggio stopped 20 Peninsula shots.
In Nanaimo, the Campbell River Storm punched their ticket to the VIJHL Championship Series with a 7-1 win over the hometown Buccaneers. Campbell River took the series in four straight games.
1st star, Ryan Carson (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Kenny Britton (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Ryan Vorster (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)