COURTENAY, B.C. – The Victoria Cougars ended their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League regular season with a 7-2 win over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Saturday.
Jaden McNulty led the attack with a natural hat trick and an assist.
Victoria will now prepare for the postseason against the Westshore Wolves.
After a scoreless first period, Jacob Murray got Comox Valley on the board at 1:34 of the second period. One of five affiliate players in the Glacier Kings lineup, Murray’s goal was scored off an odd-man rush.
McNulty tied the game at 3:55 when his wrist shot from just inside the blue line sailed over the right shoulder of Braedyn Funke.
The Cougars (24-21-2-1) took the lead when McNulty converted a Liam Kinshella rebound into a goal at 7:11.
McNulty completed the natural hat trick at 12:40 after he took a centering pass from Matthew Berryman and twinkled the twine with a well-placed backhander.
Comox Valley (4-43-0-1), losers of its last 16 games, pulled to within a goal at 4:15 of the third period. Jacob Kruse lit the lamp when his shot from the high slot fooled Patrick Ostermann.
With Scott Arbuckle off for roughing at 8:12, Darwin Lakoduk skated out of the corner and slid the puck home for his 20th goal of the season.
Victoria finished 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Alexander Benger opened the floodgates with a shorthanded goal at 11:56. For Benger, that goal was his 13th of the season – a league high amongst all defensemen.
Then a backhand pass from McNulty at 17:03 resulted in a Sean Patten goal.
Matthew Sparrow added insult to injury with 58 seconds left in the game.
Shots on goal favoured the Cougars 53-21 which included outshooting Comox Valley 15-1 in the first period alone.
Akila Sato-Gaudreau and Berryman each chipped in with three assists for Victoria.
Elsewhere in the VIJHL: Westshore Wolves 5, Kerry Park Islanders 4 (2OT). Nanaimo Buccaneers 5, Oceanside Generals 2.