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Exciting VIJHL hockey shuffles league standings: Braves back on top

Guerra

Nick Guerra. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright - 2016 - Victoria Sports News

The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League's top six teams continue to provide and endless range of possibilities for the divisional standings, week-to-week. With upset wins and back-to-back points for spoiler-bottom teams, unlike the 2015-2016 season, there are no sure wins.

Last week the Victoria Cougars were beginning to resemble last year’s dominating powerhouse, while the Saanich Braves were challenging them for first place in the South Division. A pair of losses, including a shutout loss over the weekend for the Cougars, and a big Braves wins put the Saanich team back on top.

Environment Canada knows how difficult it is to predict adverse weather. When the Campbell River Storm blew into town, the Saanich Braves weathered the onslaught and prevailed by the score of 3-1 to hand the North Division and league leaders just their third loss this season.

The Braves were outshot 33-22, but during the second period the Braves took full control by netting three and then simply hung on for the win.

League leader Nick Guerra as well as Scott Henderson each earned a goal and an assist for the Braves, while the Storm’s lone goal came on the powerplay at 1:04 of the third from Cole Slaney.

Guerra continues to hold onto the points race lead with 31 in 16 games; however, a two-week slump and a rising Derek Smith from the Comox Valley Glacier Kings put that lead at risk. The Dexter, Michigan native has 30 points in 15 games.

Likewise his Glacier Kings team look to usurp the Storm for first place overall. They defeated the Cougars Thursday night 4-3, and then earned a point by losing in OT to the visiting Oceanside Generals, 6-5 who were desperate for the win.

The Generals needed that win in the worst way as they are the North Division cellar dwellers with just nine points in 14 games. Meanwhile, their fellow South Division cellar dwellers, the Peninsula Panthers, earned a win and an overtime loss during their previous two games.

The Westshore Wolves are playing .500 hockey with their record of 6-6-0-1. They will host the Braves Wednesday at The Q Centre, then Thursday night they pay a visit to the Cougars at Pearkes Arena, followed by a Saturday match-up against the Generals in Parksville. With two games in-hand on Victoria, this will be an opportunity to close the gap between the Wolves and the two South Division frontrunners.

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