There’s nothing like making a good impression in your first meaningful game with a team.
Victoria Cougars rookie Darwin Lakoduk did just that, scoring his first Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League goal and setting up two others to lead the Cats to a 5-0 victory over visiting Comox Valley on Thursday at Archie Browning Sports Centre.
The 17-year-old former Northern Alberta Extreme major midget player shared the spotlight with new Cougars goaltender Patrick Ostermann, who kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in his first game on the Island.
“I felt that the whole team came together, there was lots of positivity on the bench, so it’s really motivating when everyone’s behind you,” said Lakoduk, the youngest player on the Cougars roster.
So far he’s enjoying the faster pace of play and the systems put in place by the Victoria coaching staff.
Head coach Suneil Karod praised the youngster after the game.
“He’s fast, he’s skilled, he’s a smart hockey player,” said Karod, comparing the poise the youngster showed with that of a 19- or 20-year-old veteran. “I’m very happy with him, he wants to move on, he wants to do well, and if he keeps taking care of his stuff he should be fine.”
The Cougars showed a bit of nervousness early on against the Kings, who almost scored on an innocent-looking first shot against Ostermann. While Comox Valley held a 14-8 edge in shots after the first period, Victoria settled down after 10 minutes or so and scored the first goal when team captain Liam Knshella and Carl Ewart set up Nicholas Looysen at the 17:12 mark.
A power play marker from Akila Sato-Gaudreau, followed by a last-minute tally from Lakoduk made it 3-0 after two, and late third-period goals from Kyle Wade and Jaden McNulty rounded out the scoring.
Victoria outshot the Kings 43-28 overall.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Karod said. “Our guys, they bought into the system, which is great for everyone to buy in this early.”
The teams do battle again tomorrow night (Sept. 9) in Courtenay when the Glacier Kings host the second half of this season-opening home and home series.