ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars are in the driver’s seat at the Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament.
After posting a 4-2 win the night prior, Victoria followed that performance up with a thrilling 5-3 victory over the Campbell River Storm Friday night.
John Kretzschmar tied the game at 3-3 at the 11:49 mark of the third period and then scored into an empty net with 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
It was the second nail biter of the day. The 100 Mile House Wranglers edged the Mission City Outlaws 2-1 in the early game.
The Cougars currently sit atop of the Cyclone Taylor Cup standings with a record of 2-0 while Mission City and 100 Mile House are both 1-1 and Campbell River is 0-2.
All four teams have one round-robin game remaining.
Victoria trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 before scoring three unanswered third period goals in a span of seven minutes and 36 seconds.
After taking a pass from Lane Vandewetering deep in Storm territory, Kretzschmar quickly fired the puck past a sprawling Jake Mullen to tie the game at 3-3.
Nico Somerville, who was celebrating his 17th birthday, did a good job to keep the play onside. Wiring the puck from just inside the blue line, Mullen made the stop but the rebound came out to Brett Lervold who ripped it home at 15:29 for his first goal of the tournament.
And with Mullen pulled for an extra attacker, Kretzschmar iced the cake with an empty net goal.
Campbell River opened the scoring at 10:13 of the first period after Kobe Oishi beat Gregory Maggio with a wraparound. Just over three minutes later, Nathan Looysen used Dom Kolbeins as a decoy before firing a laser beam top shelf.
Austin Steger restored the lead with a power play goal at 4:02 of the middle frame. Victoria would get the equalizer at 9:22 on a solo effort from Ryan Carson.
The Storm took its third lead of the game on a goal from Christian Brandt at 3:22 of the third period.
From there, Maggio and the Cougars clamped down.
Shots on goal favoured Campbell River, 38-26.
The Storm finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage while Victoria went 0-for-2.
Next game for the Cougars is Saturday, April 9 against the Mission City Outlaws. Game time at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, located at 1151 Esquimalt Road, is 7:30 p.m.
PLAYER OF THE GAME (VICTORIA COUGARS): John Kretzschmar
PLAYER OF THE GAME (CAMPBELL RIVER STORM): Colin Blake