The Peninsula Panthers accomplished something over the weekend that had eluded them in three previous tries – beat the Victoria Cougars.
Riley Braun scored at 2:57 of overtime on a power play to give his team a 2-1 victory over the only team that had beaten Panthers in all their previous encounters.
Braun’s winning shot from 14 feet out sent his teammates rushing from the bench in celebration while the dejected Cougars skated slowly off the ice at Archie Browning Arena.
The victory also propelled the Panthers one point ahead of the Cougars in the overall league standings with 46 points, with the proviso that the Cougars still own the league’s best winning percentage.
Victory in Sunday’s game against the Cougars with its playoff atmosphere gave the Panthers all four points on the line over two weekend games.
Newly-signed Connor Cheyne led the Panthers between the pipes Friday night as they doubled down the visiting Kerry Park Islanders 6-3. Tanner Wort led all scorers with a hat trick, while Denver Maloney, Logan Speirs and Josh Lingard with an empty-net marker each added singles.
This home victory set the stage for Sunday’s road game against the Cougars, who took the lead in the second period. But the Panthers showed resilience and tied the game early in the third period on Braun’s first goal of the evening. The game then tipped towards the Panthers when the Cougars received a five-minute major penalty during the final minute of regulation.
While the Panthers could not initially capitalize on that opportunity, the penalty continued into the extra frame, with Riley settling the affair.
Head coach Brad Tippett could not have sounded more thrilled about his team’s performance over the weekend.
“We wanted a good start to a very tough seven-game stretch – basically a simulation of a tough playoff series,” he said. “We had effort, discipline and commitment from everyone again. Our defence are defending well and moving the puck while both goaltenders have provided solid performances. We are seeing our forwards play a 200-foot game and all lines are getting chances.”
The Panthers won’t have much time though to savour the victories. The team is back on the ice Wednesday with a road game against the Westshore Wolves, before hosting them Friday at Panorama Recreation Centre with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m.
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