The Victoria Cougars will face the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of VIHL playoff action beginning Thursday at home.

The Victoria Cougars will face the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of VIHL playoff action beginning Thursday at home.

Cougars gear up for playoff run

The Victoria Cougars will face the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of VIHL playoff action beginning Thursday at home.

With the Victoria Cougars coming off a stellar regular season, the next challenge is a difficult one: taking on the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff action.

The Cougars are coming off one of the most exciting regular seasons in recent history, clinching first place in the South Island Division with a 38-5-1-1 record and bringing home their sixth straight Andy Hebenton Trophy for the most points during the regular season.

Their record also includes an impressive 23 game-winning streak, which was snapped by the Nanaimo Buccaneers last month.

Head coach Mark Van Helvoirt attributes the team’s success not to talent, but dedication.

“We’ve got a really committed group, maybe not the most talented team that I’ve coached here with the Cougars, but the group’s really committed — committed to each other and improvement,” Van Helvoirt said.

He added they’ve got depth with all four lines, two strong goalies in Anthony Ciurro and Gregory Maggio and seven capable defencemen.

“With that commitment level and the depth on our roster, it’s made for a good season,” Van Helvoirt said.

The Cougars have proved they’re a force to be reckoned with on ice.

Forwards Nathan Looysen, Cody Hodges and Dom Kolbeins are in the top five scoring leaders in the league with 101, 92 and 79 points, respectively.

“Obviously they’ve had really good individual seasons, but they’ve been team-first and they’ve been working extremely hard within our team concepts,” Van Helvoirt said. “You work for the system and the system works back for you.”

The team has also been solid in net with Ciurro, who has notched a league-leading 26 wins and a 0.930 save percentage.

But the young netminder was quick to point out his victories are a team effort.

“My team’s been pretty solid in front of me and keeping my life pretty easy,” Ciurro said. “I just want to keep things simple and give my team a chance to win every game.”

With another impressive season in the books, the Cougars will get set to face the Kerry Park Islanders in the first round of playoff action this week.

The Cougars are 8-0-0-0 against the Islanders this season, with their most recent 9-2 victory just last Thursday.

Van Helvoirt said the key is to focus on the game and not worry too much about their opponent.

“Kerry Park is a strong team and we just have to focus on what we do well and that’s skating,” Van Helvoirt said, adding the team will work on dictating the pace of the game.

“At this point, it’s a fresh start for all teams. It’ll be about regaining that momentum here come Thursday.”

Game one gets underway at home on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Last season, the Cougars went to the VIJHL finals, before losing to the Campbell River Storm.

 

 

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

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

A new daycare at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is slated to open in September. (Rendering courtesy of West Shore Parks and Recreation)
Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre brings daycare centre to Colwood

New centre to offer 80 spaces come September

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia’s Float the Boat fundraiser campaign is underway. The goal is to raise $25,000 in donations to help with the cost of running virtual programs and onsite operations. (Courtesy Maritime Museum of B.C.)
Maritime Museum of B.C. looks to Float the Boat in Victoria

Fundraiser proceeds will support multitude of virtual programs and onsite operations

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Mountain bikers lining up for Hartland’s newest trail

Revamped black diamond run ‘what the community needed’

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read