ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Alexander Benger scored the game winning goal on the power play midway through the third period to lift the Victoria Cougars to a 3-2 win over the Westshore Wolves on Thursday night.
Victoria converted two times on eight power play opportunities in its first game back since the Christmas break.
Affiliate player Ethan Hersant and Kyle Wade also lit the lamp for the Cougars who won for the second time in three games.
With the win, Victoria (18-13-1-1) moves three points up on the idle Saanich Braves and four points ahead on the third place Wolves in the tightly contested South Island Division.
Nicholas Polomark scored both goals for Westshore.
Following a scoreless first period, Hersant opened the scoring when his shot was deflected by Wolves defenseman Trevor Bottomley and through the wickets of goaltender Jordan Spandli.
The goal, which was scored at 4:49 of the second period, was the first at the junior level for the Shawnigan Lake School Prep product.
Polomark tied the game at 7:22 after banging home a Keiran Cardinal rebound past Patrick Ostermann.
The Cougars restored their lead at 14:57. On the power play, Wade scored from a sharp angle for his 12th goal of the season.
Watching the proceedings form the sin bin was Blake Dreyer who had 14 seconds remaining in his holding penalty.
There would be no scoring until the 5:54 mark of the third period when an own goal from Victoria defenseman Shane Kime tied the game at 2-2.
A boarding penalty to Benjamin Duffin at 7:24 put the Cougars back on the power play. And with 29 seconds remaining in Duffin’s infraction, Benger wired a point shot past Spandli who was screened on the play.
Benger leads all VIJHL defensemen with 11 goals.
After killing off a late penalty, Westshore went on its fourth and final power play with a minute left in regulation when Landon Kitchen was penalized for slashing.
With Spandli pulled for an extra attacker, the Wolves were limited to only one shot on goal despite having a two-man advantage.
Carl Ewert did a good job with his stick to break up a centering pass and Matthew Berryman preserved the win with a last second shot block.
It was a valiant effort on the part of Westshore (16-16-1-1) who dropped its sixth straight game.
Shots on goal were 33 apiece.
Earlier in the day, Suneil Karod was informed that he will coach the South Island Division Prospects this Sunday in Campbell River.
Assisting Karod will be Wolves head coach Tyler Mathieson and Braves bench boss Sam Waterfield.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL, Blake Wood stopped all 32 shots he faced as the Nanaimo Buccaneers blanked the Oceanside Generals 3-0 in front of an announced crowd of 320 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Next game for Victoria is Friday, January 5 versus the Peninsula Panthers. Game time at Panorama Recreation Centre, located at 1885 Forest Park Drive, is 7:30 p.m.
BAYVIEW PLACE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st star, Ethan Hersant (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2nd star, Nicholas Polomark (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3rd star, Alexander Benger (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)