VIJHL Playoff Summary – March 22
Victoria 4 Nanaimo 3
Mateo Albinati scored a late third period goal to give the Victoria Cougars their first lead of the night, one that not only put them in the VIJHL Championship Finals but ensured that they were heading to the Cyclone Taylor Cup in April. It was a 4-3 final Friday at the Pirate Ship before another big crowd.
Darian Harris opened the scoring taking a behind the net pass in the slot and burying his shot midway through the first. Marshall Brown evened things up before the end of 20 on the power play.
The Buccaneers regained the lead in the second frame when Chase Fioretti converted some hard work along the boards by Billy Walters on the penalty kill. Then Jacob Gosling jammed in the puck late in the period to give Nanaimo that dreaded two goal lead.
Then the Cougars mounted their comeback. In the dying seconds for the second, Matthew Clark with a brilliant steal in his own zone, went down the right side and found Bryce Irwin going hard to the net. The Cougars trailed by a goal going into the third.
Relentless pressure from the Cougars in the final period paid off as Tyler Vanuden evened the game at 3 with his fifth goal of the postseason.
Albinati’s winner came with less than five minutes remaining. He found himself alone in front of the net after a brilliant feed from Kevan McBean.
Once again special teams were a factor. The Cougars went 2 for 4 but they did give up a shortie. The Buccaneers spent just 36 seconds on the power play and were 0 for 1.
The game stars were Walters and McBean.
In addition to advancing to the VIJHL Championship Finals against Campbell River starting on Tuesday, the win catapulted the Cougars to the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Campbell River. Their first game at the CTC in Campbell River will be Thursday, April 11, at 2:30 against the KIJHL yet to be determined champion.