ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars skated to a 4-1 win over the Kerry Park Islanders in one of two VIJHL games on tap Thursday night.
Buoyed by the play of Liam McCloskey in net, Victoria extended its unbeaten streak to five games. That streak gets put to the test tomorrow night in Courtenay against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
McCloskey’s best save came early in the first period. Moving right to left, the former Prince George Spruce Kings goalie robbed Kayden Peck with his left pad.
Shots on goal favoured the Cougars 41-30.
Kenny Britton continued his torrid pace for Victoria with another goal. Recently named VIJHL Player of the Week for the period ending December 12, Britton now has five goals in his last four outings.
Also lighting the lamp were Tyler Vanuden, Akila Sato-Gaudreau, and Grayden Hohl.
The Cougars led 2-0 after one period and 3-0 after two.
McCloskey, who was named the game’s first star, was denied the shutout when Tanner Tiel scored with just over 11 minutes left in the contest.
Victoria (23-7-0-3) also extended its lead to ten points over the Saanich Braves for top spot in the South Island Division. However, Saanich has three games in hand.
Britton opened the scoring 1:45 into the game when he took a centering pass from Hohl and ripped it past Chase Anderson for his 12thgoal of the season.
The Cougars doubled their lead on a goal by Vanuden at 6:19. From the point, Chase O’Keefe had his shot redirect off the chest of Vanuden and in.
McCloskey was brilliant throughout by keeping the Islanders at bay with key saves.
With just under five minutes remaining in the second period, Victoria picked up its fifth power play of the night as Kerry Park continued its undisciplined play.
After some hacking and whacking at the puck, Sato-Gaudreau eventually put it past Anderson at 16:41. Watching the proceedings from the sin bin was Dawson Haines who had only 25 seconds left in his slashing penalty.
The Cougars finished 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
McCloskey continued his fine play until Tiel put the puck past him at 8:46.
On the preceding play, Jake Calverley and Ty Smith went toe-to-toe in a spirited fight at centre ice. Both players were given automatic game misconducts for fighting.
Then with two minutes left in the game, Hohl fired a wrist shot from the right side that sailed over the catching glove of Anderson.
Kerry Park (10-18-1-1) dropped its second game in a row.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL, Nolan Richardson scored twice and John Hawthorne stopped 31 shots to lead the Nanaimo Buccaneers past the Westshore Wolves 4-2 in front of 150 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, December 16 versus the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. Game time at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, located at 3001 Vanier Drive, is 7:30 p.m.
BAYVIEW PLACE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st star, Liam McCloskey (Saves: 29, Save Percentage: .967)
2nd star, Tyler Vanuden (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
3rd star, Chase O’Keefe (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)