ESQUIMALT, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars again failed to put together a 60-minute performance.
Josh Lingard and Tanner Wort scored twice, Bryce Schiebel stopped 33 shots, and the Peninsula Panthers upended Victoria 4-2 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre on a cold and rainy Thursday evening.
The Cougars played a strong third period, outshooting Peninsula 13-2 in the process, but the uphill climb was just too steep to overcome.
Plain and simple, Victoria was not sharp from the get go, falling behind 1-0 after one period and 4-1 after two.
Thursday marked the sixth time the Cougars have allowed the game’s first goal. Not a very good stat considering Victoria has only played ten games.
The Cougars drop to 5-5-0-0 with the loss and now share last place in the South Island Division with Peninsula who improved to 5-7-0-0.
Wort opened the scoring 6:31 in as he took a backhand pass from Carson Cox in front of the net and wristed the puck over the left shoulder of Connor McKillop.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead on Wort’s second goal of the game. At 10:50 of the second period, Wort got behind the Victoria defense and deflected home a cross ice pass from Matt Lawrence.
However, Wort’s night would come to an abrupt end 26 seconds later after he got caught plowing Tyler Vanuden into the end boards from behind.
Wort received a two-minute minor for checking from behind and an automatic game misconduct.
The Cougars power play though was nullified shortly thereafter when Zefan Pighin was whistled for goaltender interference. And with 16 seconds remaining in the penalty to Pighin, Lingard banged in his own rebound at 14:16.
Alexander Benger got Victoria on the board at 17:06 when his knuckleball from the high slot handcuffed Schiebel.
The Panthers would score their second power play goal with only 30.8 seconds left in the period. Public address announcer Scott Adams was still in the middle of announcing the penalty to Michael Fradette when Lingard notched his second goal of the game.
Foster Martin, with the only assist coming from Benger, scored at 4:23 of the third period to cut the lead in half.
The Cougars would pull McKillop, who finished with 18 saves, in favour of an extra attacker late in the game but could not beat Schiebel.
It was not the homecoming Victoria had in mind for the recently signed Vanuden who last year put up 71 points in 60 games for the Cougars.
Hopefully for Victoria, Vanuden can duplicate what he did last year and do it quickly.
Special teams once again proved to be the Cougars undoing; finishing 0-for-3 with the man advantage and going a woeful 3-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Cox had a pair of assists for Peninsula.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL: Westshore Wolves 5, Kerry Park Islanders 1. Nanaimo Buccaneers 6, Comox Valley Glacier Kings 0.
Next game for Victoria is Sunday, October 22 versus the Oceanside Generals. Game time at Oceanside Place Arena, located at 830 Island Highway West, is 2:30 p.m.
BAYVIEW PLACE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st star, Josh Lingard (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Carson Cox (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)
3rd star, Alexander Benger (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)