ESQUIMALT, B.C. – It was a night to remember for Pearce Messer.
Playing in his first VIJHL postseason game, Messer scored the winner at 7:33 of the third period as the Campbell River Storm eked out a 2-1 win over the Victoria Cougars on Sunday.
Owen Dalman, who was serving his second infraction of the game, was in the penalty box at the time of the goal.
Despite being without the services of Colin Blake and Mitchell Williams, the Storm still managed to score a pair of unanswered third period goals and take a 2-1 series lead in the VIJHL Championship Series.
All three games have been decided by one goal and all three games have been won by the visiting team.
The Cougars hope that trend continues Tuesday with Game 4 slated for the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River.
Chris Smith was by far the star of the game, allowing only one goal on 30 shots.
Victoria opened the scoring at 11:03 of the first period on a Kyle Wade shot that found its way through a maze of players and past Smith. Earning the assists were Avery Hill and Liam Kinshella.
For Kinshella, he and Brett Kinley were assessed automatic game misconducts for their second period fight.
The Cougars had a glorious chance to break the game wide open in that period, receiving eight minutes of power play time.
However, Victoria continues to struggle with the man advantage. The Cougars finished 0-for-7 and is now 1-for-12 in the series.
The Storm tied the game at 4:02 of the third period when Dylan McCann brought the puck down the right side and centered to Kobe Oishi for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Jordan Passmore had his no-look backhand pass intercepted by Oishi who quickly fed the puck up to McCann.
Then at 6:29, Dalman was called for interference behind the play.
Messer, who turned 17-years-old just last month, gave Campbell River the lead for good when he one-timed a beautiful centering feed from Zach Erhardt in front of the net. Trevor Bottomley was credited with the second assist.
The Storm went 1-for-4 on the power play.
No stranger to the VIJHL, Messer registered three goals and five assists for eight points in seven games during the regular season as a call up.
With 71 seconds left in the third period and Anthony Ciurro pulled for an extra attacker, Victoria pressed for the equalizer but it was to no avail.
Ciurro made 29 saves in defeat.
BAYVIEW PLACE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st star, Pearce Messer (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Tyler Pang (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Chris Smith (Saves: 29, Save Percentage: .967)