Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart - The Peninsula Panthers scored the game-tying goal with 9 seconds remaining and then Daniel Welch scored 2:02 into overtime, as the Peninsula Panthers notched a 3-2 OT win over the struggling Saanich Braves on Tuesday night at Panorama Recreation Centre in Sidney.
With just a shoot-out win last Friday and the single point from Tuesday all they have to show for their efforts in the past six games, it is safe to say the Saanich Braves are in a slump. Snake bit by a game-winning goal with 50 seconds to play in Campbell River last Saturday, and again Tuesday night by the game tying goal from Reece Costain with 9 seconds to play, the Braves just can't seem to buy any breaks and have been struggling to juggle gaps in the line-up due to injury or absenteeism.
It didn't get any easier for them on Tuesday as they were missing regulars Shawn McBride (illness), Ty Jones (school commitment), Kevin Massy (injury), Justin Polischuk (injury) and goaltender Bowman Rutledge (injury) from their line-up. Nor did it help when at the 6:08 mark of the second period, power forward Josh Gray and defenceman Jordan Groenhyde were both ejected from the game after a melee that ensued after Peninsula's Logan Gibson took Brave rookie Nick Guerra into the boards from behind.
Despite the shortages and buoyed by the assistance of a number of APs from the Midget AA Braves and the return of Brandon Parmar to the line-up, it appeared that the Braves had this game well in hand.
Prior to being ejected, Gray had given the Braves a 1-0 lead at the 4:28 mark of the first period and while the Panthers countered with a goal early in the third period from Ben Meek, the Braves would immediately get that back on a nice effort from Max Mois just 30 seconds later to lead 2-1.
It appeared that score would hold for the rest of the game, as Panther goaltender Josh Round and Brave goaltender Tanner McGaw played well, but it was not to be for the Braves, as lady luck and perhaps some favourable officiating, would lean toward the Panthers.
As one example of this, the Brave's Nolan Kinney appeared to have scored a critical insurance goal for the Braves midway through the third period, but referee Jeff Eden ruled that the net had come off its moorings prior to the puck entering the net, even though from this reporter's viewpoint, the net did not move and was securely in place when the puck went in the net.
In a second example, the Brave's Max Mois later was sent in on a breakaway and had his feet clearly taken out from under him, sending him flying into the Panther's goalie, but there was no call on the play.
Still, the Braves looked to be on their way to a win, but after failing to capitalize on an empty net opportunity with Round out for the extra attacker with just under a minute left, the Panthers would crash the net around McGaw and Costain would jam home the tying goal, bringing the home town fans to their feet.
Two minutes into the overtime period, the Panther's Daniel Welch would break down the left-wing on a 2-on-1 and using his teammate as a decoy, he would snipe a bullet past McGaw for the game winner, giving the Panthers the 3-2 win.
The win improves the Panther's record to 21-16-3 and they sit in 4th place in the South, 4 points behind the third place Westshore Wolves and 10 points behind Saanich. The Braves fall to 26-11-3 and are in second in the South. They remain six points up on the Wolves and have a critical match-up with them on Friday night at Pearkes Arena.