JUNIOR B: Cougars snuff Panthers, take stranglehold on championship

Victoria leap ahead of Peninsula in VIJHL finals

Peninsula Panther Kyle Peterson

Peninsula Panther Kyle Peterson

The Victoria Cougars took a 3-0 series lead in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League finals with a 3-0 win over the Peninsula Panthers in Esquimalt on Sunday afternoon.

It was the second straight shutout for Cougars’ goalie Corey Koop, stopping all 31 shots. Josh Wyatt, Steve Axford and Clark Anderson scored the goals.

Cougars coach Mark Van Helvoirt introduced a more defensive system this season, and it’s paid off. Peninsula’s Joe Densmore scored the first goal of the series in the first period of game one, a 4-1 Cougars win on Thursday.

Peninsula hasn’t scored since. Victoria won 4-0 in game two at Panorama on Friday.

“We’re doing a good job of taking away (Peninsula’s) time and space, keeping them to the outside and minimizing their high percentage chances.”

Van Helvoirt even felt the Cougars’ weren’t playing their best hockey in Sunday’s win.

“We’re trying not to make things overly complicated, even when you don’t have your best game, and (Sunday) we focused on getting pucks deep and a solid effort.”

The two teams met in the south division final of last year’s playoffs, with a different result. It was the Panthers who were too strong for Victoria then. But Peninsula was on the ropes, back in Saanichton for a do-or-die game four on Monday night.

“I don’t think anyone in the (dressing) room is overly concerned with who we’re playing,” Van Helvoirt said.

Should Peninsula extend the series with a win on Monday, game five will happen Thursday night at Archie Browning Sports Centre, 7:15 p.m.