VI Prospects Down the PJ 7-4

Now that was a fun afternoon on a cold and blustery day in Nanaimo. The first-ever PJHL/VIJHL Prospects Challenge Cup hit the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Sunday (January 12) featuring the best young talent these two great leagues have to offer. The VIJHL Young Guns outlasted their PJHL counterparts 7-4.

This was a fast paced, hard hitting and extremely competitive game that, at times, had more of a playoff feel.

The VI got the ball rolling just over 4 minutes into the first when Avery Hargitt (Saanich Braves) converted on a wraparound. The assist went to Brendan Rogers (Nanaimo Buccaneers) and Harkirat Gill (Victoria Cougars) had his fingerprints on the goal getting the puck in deep for Hargitt and Rogers.

The PJ responded less than 30 seconds later when Nicholas Riccardi (Port Moody Panthers) went in deep and from behind the net fed Nicholas Amsler (Ridge Meadows Flames) off the stick of Bradley Fortin (Delta Ice Hawks). Great finish from Amsler.

The host league had an opportunity to go ahead on a penalty shot but Ajeetpal Gundarah (Langley Trappers) made a solid save and really gave Brendan Rogers no place to go. Gundarah made some spectacular stops in his 29 minutes of play.

It was 1-1 after 1 and the shots on goal were even at 9.

Midway through the second, it took two tries but Brendan Murray (Campbell River Storm) restored the VIJHL lead. Jory Swanson (Campbell River Storm) did a great job behind the net to find his teammate.

Twelve minutes into the second, a well placed pass from Samuel Marburg (North Vancouver Wolf Pack) to Erik Strik (Grandview Steelers) and he ensured the two sides were once again square, this time at 2.

In the late stages of the middle period, the PJ came on and kept the play in the VI end. It looked as though the Island side was going to have their hands full going into the 3rd tied at 2.

That’s how it looked but the VIJHL exploded with three goals in the first five minutes of the third period, changing momentum dramatically.

Chase Klassen (Westshore Wolves) converted on a nice pass from Davis Frank (Victoria Cougars) at the 1:37 mark; Tory McClintick (Westshore Wolves) started the play with the initial breakout pass. Thirty seconds later, Matthew Seale (Peninsula Panthers) took a shot from just inside the point off another nifty pass from Davis Frank; Chase Klassen picked up the second assist. With just under 5 minutes gone in the period, Avery Hargitt, with his second, opened up a 5-2 lead; Brendan Rogers earned the assist.

The PJ came back at the 8 minute mark with two quick ones and it was game on. Samuel Marburg on a 2 on 1 snuck the puck under the sprawling goaltender. Although no assists were credited on the goal, Bradley Fortin coming down the right side made a great feed to Marburg. Less than a minute later, Keeton Oakley (Langley Trappers) found defenceman Kurt Hoogendoorn (North Vancouver Wolf Pack) alone in the slot and the Mainlanders were within one.

With 3 minutes left and the VI clinging to a 5-4 lead, Luc Pelletier (Peninsula Panthers) won an offensive zone faceoff then put himself in from of the net for a short pass from Elijah Goyer (Oceanside Generals); Riley Braun (Peninsula Panthers) was also credited with an assist.

With the PJHL net empty, Avery Hargitt completed the hattrick from just over centre ice.

The Prospects Challenge Cup Game Stars were Avery Hargitt from the VIJHL and Ajeetpal Gundarah from the PJHL.

The Pacific Junior Hockey League will try and exact some revenge on the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League come January 26 when the All-stars meet at the Home of the Delta Ice Hawks, the Ladner Leisure Centre; 2:45 puck drop.