Panthers even series with 5-2 win over Braves

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinals shift to Peninsula for Games 3 and 4

Matt Biagoni and the Saanich Braves suffered a 5-2 loss to the Peninsula Panthers at Pearkes arena in Game 2 of their VIJHL semifinal series on Wednesday. Game 3 is 7:30 p.m. at Panorama

Matt Biagoni and the Saanich Braves suffered a 5-2 loss to the Peninsula Panthers at Pearkes arena in Game 2 of their VIJHL semifinal series on Wednesday. Game 3 is 7:30 p.m. at Panorama

Coach Brad Cook had to wonder where the Saanich Braves’ game plan was against the Peninsula Panthers in Game 2 of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League semifinal series on Wednesday (March 7).

The Panthers used a dominating, four-goal second period to win the game 5-2 and even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

“We played well, put a lot of pressure on the Braves and did a good job of stopping the way they like to play,” said Panthers coach Rob Armstrong.

Tyler Porteous, Jake Bryan and Joe Densmore each scored on the powerplay for the Panthers. Josh Bloomenthal and David Stephens scored at even strength to make it 5-0.

“Our powerplay had been inconsistent most of the season. It had to be better and it was (on Wednesday),” Armstrong said.

Among the many frustrations for Cook was the Braves’ lack of discipline, having repeatedly warned his squad not to give the Panthers powerplay chances.

“We were awful,” Cook said. “Unfocused and undisciplined. We didn’t do what we talked about for our game plan. We had a chance to go up 2-0 in the series and now we’re back even.”

“In saying that, we weren’t good in the first period but, only being down a goal, you’ll take that. “We had a stretch of eight minutes in the second period where we dominated and had five point-blank scoring chances. It could have easily been 3-3.”

James Kellington and Sam McMullen scored for the Braves in the third period but the deficit was too large. Adding to the Braves’ woes, Nick Vanstone earned a minor penalty for a hit-to-the-head in the first period, which comes with an automatic 10-minute misconduct. When it happened again, this time in the second period, Vanstone was ejected from the game.

“They’re stupid penalties,” Cook said.

Brave words: Good news: In both first round losses to the Campbell River Storm the Braves bounced back to win, a habit they were trying to build during the regular season.

Bad news: The flu bug is making its rounds within the Braves’ dressing room. Jack Palmer and Jordan Groenhyde were kept out of the lineup, meaning they were sick enough to forego a playoff game.

Game 3: 7:30 p.m. March 9 at Panorama.Game 4: 7:30 p.m  March 12 at Panorama.Game 5: 8:30 p.m. March 14 at Pearkes.