Cougars Win Game 5 And Take A 3-2 Series Lead

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ESQUIMALT, B.C. – One-goal games between the Campbell River Storm and Victoria Cougars have been the way of life recently.

However, that all changed Sunday afternoon.

Anthony Ciurro stopped 40 shots and John Kretzschmar scored twice to lead Victoria to a 5-1 win and a 3-2 series lead in the 2016 VIJHL Finals.

Game 6 goes Tuesday night in Campbell River.

Dating all the way back to March 12, 2014, the Cougars and Storm have been involved in ten straight one-goal playoff games.

Victoria stormed out of the gate early and by the 5:38 mark of the first period had built a 2-0 lead.

Nathan Looysen set the tone early by wallpapering Cole Slaney into the side boards on the game’s opening shift.  Then on the same shift, Looysen took a stretch pass from Kretzschmar and beat Riley Welyk low blocker side on a breakaway 21 seconds in.

A giveaway by Kobe Oishi led to Austin Wilk poking the puck to Kretzschmar who wired a wrist shot over the catching glove of Welyk from the slot.  And just like that it was 2-0 for the home side.

After the goal, Campbell River called a timeout.  Head coach Lee Stone was back behind the bench for the visitors after serving a four-game suspension.

There was no scoring until the 13:16 mark of the second period when Ryan Carson tipped a point shot from Wilk behind Welyk to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead heading into the final frame.

Ciurro was impressive in the period, turning aside all 13 shots.  With 30 seconds remaining, Ciurro kept his shutout bid intact when he whipped out his blocker to turn aside a rocket from defenseman Will Warm.

Victoria extended its lead at 5:04 of the third period.  On the power play, Kretzschmar scored his second goal of the game after banging home a Carson rebound.  Watching the proceedings from the sin bin was Josh Coblenz who had 27 seconds remaining in his hooking penalty.

Gage Colpron found the back of the net for the Storm at 6:42 but the goal was called back on a goalie interference penalty to Keenan Scardina.  Campbell River then received a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct 39 seconds later to put the Cougars on an extended two-man advantage.

Standing on the doorstep, Dom Kolbeins grabbed a Looysen rebound and tucked the puck past Welyk at the eight minute mark.

Penalties started to accumulate for both teams which included a game ejection for Scardina who received his third stick infraction.

Ciurro was coasting along before his shutout bid got ruined at 11:53.  With Kolbeins and Wilk in the penalty box, Braeden Cyra made a nice pass through the blue paint to Colpron for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

Victoria went 2-for-7 with the man advantage while Campbell River finished 1-for-7.

Wilk collected three assists.  Looysen added a pair of helpers to go along with his first period goal.

Welyk made 25 saves in a losing effort.

Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Victoria on Thursday night.

THREE STARS:

1st star, Anthony Ciurro (Saves:  40, Save Percentage:  .976)

2nd star, John Kretzschmar (Goals:  2, Assists:  1)

3rd star, Ryan Carson (Goals:  1, Assists:  1)

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