Peter Kung/Christopher Kelsall
The Victoria Cougars again failed to put together a 60-minute performance losing to the last-place Peninsula Panthers 4-2 at home. Meanwhile across town at The Q Centre, the Westshore Wolves took out the second-place Kerry Park Islanders by the score of 5-1 Thursday night.
Josh Lingard and Tanner Wort scored twice, Bryce Schiebel stopped 33 shots, and the Peninsula Panthers upended Victoria at the Archie Browning Sports Centre on a cold and rainy Thursday evening.
The Cougars played a strong third period, outshooting Peninsula 13-2 in the process, but the uphill climb was just too steep to overcome.
Plain and simple, Victoria was not sharp from the get-go, falling behind 1-0 after one period and 4-1 after two.
Thursday marked the sixth time the Cougars have allowed the game’s first goal. Not a very good stat considering Victoria has only played ten games.
The Cougars drop to 5-5-0-0 with the loss and now share last place in the South Island division with Peninsula who improved to 5-7-0-0.
Wort opened the scoring 6:31 in as he took a backhand pass from Carson Cox in front of the net and wristed the puck over the left shoulder of Connor McKillop.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead on Wort’s second goal of the game. At 10:50 of the second period, Wort got behind the Victoria defense and deflected home a cross-ice pass from Matt Lawrence.
However, Wort’s night would come to an abrupt end 26 seconds later after he got caught plowing Tyler Vanuden into the end boards from behind.
Wort received a two-minute minor for checking from behind and an automatic game misconduct.
The Cougars powerplay though was nullified shortly thereafter when Zefan Pighin was whistled for goaltender interference. And with 16 seconds remaining in the penalty to Pighin, Lingard banged in his own rebound at 14:16.
Alexander Benger got Victoria on the board at 17:06 when his knuckleball from the high slot handcuffed Schiebel.
The Panthers would score their second power play goal with only 30.8 seconds left in the period. Public address announcer Scott Adams was still in the middle of announcing the penalty to Michael Fradette when Lingard notched his second goal of the game.
Foster Martin, with the only assist coming from Benger, scored at 4:23 of the third period to cut the lead in half.
The Cougars would pull McKillop, who finished with 18 saves, in favour of an extra attacker late in the game but could not beat Schiebel.
It was not the homecoming Victoria had in mind for the recently signed Vanuden who last year put up 71 points in 60 games for the Cougars.
Special teams once again proved to be the Cougars undoing; finishing 0-for-3 with the man advantage and going a woeful 3-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Cox had a pair of assists for Peninsula.
In Colwood, the Wolves scored three, second-period goals to lead 3-1 through two periods. There was no scoring during the first and just 17 shots taken by both teams. The Wolves would end up taking 38 to the Islanders 25 after 60-minutes of play.
Five different Wolves scored during the game, Brandon Tutte, Patrick Poets, Lukas Yesaki, Benjamin Duffin and Jacob McQuillan.
Kayden Peck scored the lone goal for the Islanders.
The special teams weren’t so special as the Islanders managed to go 1/7 on the man advantage, while the Wolves went 0/5.
JJ Pichette manned the nets for the Islanders, while Luke Sheldrake stopped 24 of 25 shots that came his way for Westshore.
Three points separate second from last in the South Division, while the Wolves padded their first place lead a little. Meanwhile in the North Division, the Buccaneers appear to be runaway leaders.
Up-island, the first place Nanaimo Buccaneers defeated the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 6-0. The Buccaneers boast an impressive 11-1-0-0 record so far this season.
Two games on the ledger for Friday night with the Campbell River Storm visiting the Saanich Braves. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 pm. The Islanders will get a thorough test Friday as they host the Buccaneers, who show no signs of slowing down.