Captain Tanner Wort of the Peninsula Panthers battles for the puck against Braden Blace of the Victoria Cougars Thursday night in Esquimalt as the Panthers won 4-3 in overtime. They lost 6-1 against the same Cougars 24 hours later. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)

Peninsula Panthers continue their pattern by splitting two games against Cougars

The two best VIJHL teams from last season continue to neutralize each other this season

The Peninsula Panthers hockey team renewed its rivalry with the Victoria Cougars in a familiar manner in splitting their weekend games.

Matthew Seale scored his second goal of the season less than three minutes into the first overtime period to give the Panthers a 4-3 road victory over the Cougars Thursday night. Seale’s goal saved the Panthers from what could have been a collapse as the Panthers had raced out to what general manager Pete Zubersky called a “commanding” lead of three goals to none.

“But they were credited with a goal that we thought went off the post and should not have been counted,” he said. “That let the horses out of the barn and the Cougars knotted up the score in short order.”

RELATED: Peninsula Panthers split their first two games of the new VIJHL season

Less than 10 minutes later, the score was tied 3-3, remaining so through the third period and part of the overtime until Seale’s winner. “Seale had a great game, his best in his two years with the club,” said Zubersky.

Connor Svienson back-stopped the Panthers to victory, saving 39 of 42 shots.

The Cougars exacted revenge for the narrow loss 24 hours later, beating the Panthers 6-1 with Logan Speirs tallying the Panthers’ lone goal at Panorama Recreation Centre.

Brayden Evans started in goal for the Panthers, taking the loss. Zubersky said Evans “probably had two or three shots that he would have liked back” noting the Cougars had better goaltending. “I thought that really factored into the success they had. We were spanked 6-1 but the score was really not indicative of the play.”

Four games into the eight-game series to start the season, both teams have won two games, with the combined score total of 17-11 favouring the Cougars.

The two teams face off again Thursday, then again on Saturday with the Panthers hosting the Cougars, with a maximum of 50 fans allowed into Panorama Recreation Centre, as per measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Zubersky said players get one or two tickets for family, with the rest going out to sponsors. “But it’s difficult, really difficult,” said Zubersky, when asked about what it is like to play in front of a limited audience. “Some of the arenas don’t get a whole lot more than that. But on the Peninsula, we do. That’s always a real pull for the kids to play out here, because we get the best support in the south. But I think everybody everybody understands it.”


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