Mitch Propp. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2016 – Victoria Sports News

The top two teams in the South Division of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League met Thursday night at Archie Brownie Arena with the visiting Saanich Braves prevailing over host Victoria Cougars by the score of 4-2.

Nick Guerra of the Braves, who leads the league in scoring, padded his lead while scoring two goals and assisting on another. Guerra earned first star honours for his efforts.

Tyler Vanuden opened the scoring for the Cougars at just 43 seconds of the first with a powerplay goal that was set up by Grayden Hohl. Kyle Mace was sent off at 13 seconds for interference.

Five-minutes and 27 seconds later Gavin Grewal scored from Guerra and Connor Birmingham to tie the score at 1-1. Shots were 11-10 Cougars after the first.

It was during the 14-shot second period that the Braves scored three consecutive and four unanswered goals. Guerra’s unassisted goal at 13:12 proved to be the game winner. He scored again at 16:49 on the powerplay from Scott Henderson and Mitch Moloney.

The Braves threw another 14 shots at Goaltender Anthony Ciurro during the third, but he battened down the hatches and hoped for some offensive support. The Cougars did direct 12 shots at Riley Mathieson, but scored just once at 10:11. Nick Gomerich buried the puck. He was set up by Akila Sato-Gaudreau and James Scott, but that is all that the Cougars could muster.

The Cougars did get themselves into penalty trouble as they were sent to the sin bin six consecutive times, three times during the third period before coincidentals were called for unsportsmanlike conduct at the tail end of the game, with :03 remaining on the clock.

The shots were 38-28 Braves, while they went 1/8 on the powerplay and 1/2 on the kill.

With the win, the Braves pass the Cougars in the standings by one point and hold a game in hand. Prior to Thursday’s game, the Cougars had won five consecutive.

The Braves sport a record of 14-4-1-1, while the Cougars have gone 13-5-0-3.

Nick Guerra. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Braves play Friday night as they host the Campbell River Storm, who are tearing up the North Division with a record of 17-4-0-0. The Cougars visit the Peninsula Panthers.

The Panthers desperately need to win, they sport a record of 3-15-0-3 and occupy the cellar of the South Division and the league. Last game out the Braves beat them 11-0 at Panorama Recreation Centre.

Saanich’s Nick Guerra leads the league in points. He now has 42 points in 20 games with 27 goals and 15 assists.  The player with the second most points is Colin Blake of the Campbell River Storm. He has 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points.

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