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VIJHL schedule about to heat up for top teams

Nick Guerra getting a look from Cougars goaltender Anthony Ciurro. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright - 2017 - Victoria Sports News

Thanks to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League schedule maker, the final week of the regular season will provide very exciting Junior B hockey action.

With just a handful of games remaining in the 2016-2017 VIJHL regular season, the South Division’s second place Saanich Braves will visit the first place Victoria Cougars. The game goes Thursday night in the VSN Game of the Week at Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt. The Braves are four points back of the Cougars and will want to win this veritable four-pointer.

The Cougars had held first place most of the season with the exception of a short period of time in November when the Braves took over first. Currently the Campbell River Storm have taken over the top spot with a record of 31-9-0-0 for 62 points in 40 games played. Meanwhile the Cougars have 61 points in 41 games, while the Braves are at 57 in 42 games. It couldn’t be much closer.

As Nick Guerra goes, seemingly so go the Braves. Guerra was scoring at a furious clip early in the season and jumped out to a massive lead in the league point scoring race. All season it appeared that Guerra would take the title even after a three-game injury had sidelined him, which followed a bit of a slump in December. In fact, the Storm’s Colin Blake took over the lead from Guerra last week, after the Storm won four games by scores of 8-2, 6-1, 11-4, 9-7 and 10-1. They outscored the competition in a five-game stretch 44-15. Blake was a big part of that.

Currently, the two are tied with 71 points; however, Guerra has scored more goals with 42 to Blake’s 30. With two games in-hand for Blake, Guerra needs to pile up the points, including Thursday against the stingy Cougars who defensively, sit first in the division and second in the league with just 108 goals against.

In recent games, Guerra has appeared to return to form earning five points (2g, 3a) in an 8-1 win over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. The following game he scored two of the Braves three goals in a 3-2 win against the Westshore Wolves, he scored the winner in both games.

The Cougars would like to take first place overall from the Storm, who they meet Tuesday Feb 7, then three nights later the Cougars will visit the Braves in the final game of the season.

Mitch Propp. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Storm take on the Nanaimo Buccaneers Thursday Feb 9th – the Buccaneers have had a run of 10-4 over the past 14 games. They will be tough to beat.

The schedule maker must have known who would be vying for first place; there is some exciting hockey coming up.

Thursday’s puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm at Archie Browning Arena.

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