ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Saanich Braves beat the Victoria Cougars 4-2 in one of two VIJHL games played on Thursday night.
With the win, Saanich moved into sole possession of first place in the South Island Division.
The Braves (14-4-1-1) scored three goals in the second period and spent the final 20 minutes protecting their precious and well-deserved lead.
After winning its previous five games, Victoria came out flat and never recovered. It was not until just after the midway point of the third period when they began to show any sort of life.
The Cougars (13-5-0-3) dropped to second place in the standings, one point behind Saanich who has a game in hand on Victoria.
Unable to mount any sort of offensive attack, the Cougars sloppy play also led to a number of turnovers and resulted in eight penalties.
Victoria opened the scoring 43 seconds in on a power play goal from Tyler Vanuden.
From that point on the Braves controlled the play.
During an odd man rush, Nick Guerra fed the puck over to Gavin Grewal who beat Anthony Ciurro for his ninth goal of the season at 6:20.
There would be no scoring until the 10:40 mark of the second period when a shot from Garrick Heathcote just trickled over the goal line to give Saanich a 2-1 lead.
The Cougars did not get their first shot on goal until there was seven minutes remaining that period.
Guerra showed why he was recently named VIJHL Player of the Week. The Braves captain scored his first of two goals off a breakaway at 13:12.
Then at 16:49, Guerra notched his league-leading 27th goal and tenth power play goal of the season.
Victoria had a better third period defensively but the damage had already been done.
Nick Gomerich cut the lead in half on a nice setup from Akila Sato-Gaudreau at 10:11 for the only goal of the third period.
The Cougars pulled Ciurro with about 90 seconds left in regulation but to no avail.
Shots on goal favoured Saanich, 38-28.
Victoria went 1-for-2 on the power play; meanwhile, the Braves finished 1-for-8.
Elsewhere, Drew Coughlin scored the game winner and Shawn Parkinson stopped all 39 shots as the Peninsula Panthers blanked the Nanaimo Buccaneers 1-0 in front of 175 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for the Cougars is Friday, November 11 versus the Peninsula Panthers. Game time at the Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.
BAYVIEW PLACE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st star, Nick Guerra (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
2nd star, Kyle Mace (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)
3rd star, Akila Sato-Gaudreau (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)