Victoria Cougars forward Foster Martin, chased in the corner by Kerry Park’s Jacob King, looks for a teammate to pass to during Thursday’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game in Esquimalt. The Cougars won 5-2 to move into first place in the South Division. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Victoria snags the elusive top spot in VIJHL hockey South

Cougars in Campbell River tonight, win over Kerry Park leaves them first heading into break

No matter what happens in Campbell River tonight (Dec. 22), the Victoria Cougars can say they climbed back into top spot in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s South Division by the Christmas break.

Thursday’s 5-2 win over Kerry Park in Esquimalt pushed the Cats’ unbeaten string to three games and left them two points ahead of slumping Westshore (16-14-1-1) , who lost their fourth in a row, 7-4 to the Saanich Braves in Colwood on Wednesday.

While the South is far closer a race than the North, where Nanaimo and Campbell River have built a sizable lead, rising to the top alone for the first time in weeks feels pretty good, said Cougars rookie Jaden McNulty.

“It’s a four-point night pretty much every game there is in the South. It’s tight, so every game counts,” said the forward, who had two assists against the Islanders.

Victoria (17-12-1-1) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period and ignited their previously dormant power play, scoring three times with the man advantage. Goals by Foster Martin, Shane Kime, Mateo Albinati and Darwin Lakoduk gave the Cougars what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

Keenan Eddy got Kerry Park (13-15-0-4) on the board in the second, then with about seven minutes left in the third Tanner Tiel cut the margin to two with the Islanders’ second power play goal. The visitors outplayed the Cougars for stretches in the second and third, but Victoria managed to limit Kerry Park’s scoring chances. Kyle Wade scored an empty netter to finish off the scoring at 19:40.

“We let off the pedal a little, but we were able to have a strong finish there,” McNulty said, noting his team lost the spark it had at the start. “We were just playing smarter hockey and going to the right areas, able to jump on loose pucks. We had a lot of intensity, but a lack of it in the second and third period.”

Kime led the way overall with a goal and three assists, while Martin and Lakoduk also had two-point nights.

With a third of the season yet to play and just seven points separating top to bottom in the South, anything can happen, but McNulty is confident.

“We’ve got great coaching and our systems are good, I think we can pull this out and get first place in the south,” he said. “It’s going to take work ethic, we’ve just got to bear down and we’ll get ‘er done.”

The Cougars return to action Thursday, Jan. 4 at home against the Wolves.

Four Cougars to play in VIJHL Prospects Game

Forwards Lakoduk, Albinati and Matthew Sparrow and defenceman Alexander Benger have been selected for Team South in the annual VIJHL Prospects Game, set for Jan. 7 in Campbell River.

The South versus North format game this season features up and coming players born between 1999 and 2001. Each of the nine teams nominated players, who were then reviewed by a selection committee.

The Prospects game will be broadcast live online as the free VIJHL game of the week at vijhl.hockeytv.com

editor@vicnews.com

Junior B HockeyVictoria Cougars

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thieves harvest from 11 unlocked cars in Oak bay

Looting unlocked cars called ‘farming,’ says deputy chief

Friday night tickets affect Saturday behaviour at the University of Victoria

Saanich police see direct response after issuing several $230 fines

Sidney part of a region that suffers ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

Consultants find that Sidney needs 233 new spaces to meet the current demand for daycare

HMCS Victoria popping up as training sessions underway

MARPAC says plume of smoke normal for recharging submarine

West Shore RCMP seeks video footage after homeowner interrupts Colwood break and enter

Police were called to 600-block of Stornoway Drive late Sunday

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

COVID-19 liquor, music rules extended with fines

‘Nightclubs must cease operating as nightclubs’

Carole James heads ‘caretaker’ B.C. government

James is among 15 MLAs retiring at the end of their current term

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Most Read