The Victoria Cougars aren’t taking anything for granted as they head into tonight’s (Feb. 24) Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff game in Colwood.
The Cougars took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven South Division semifinal series against the Westshore Wolves on Thursday with a convincing 3-0 victory in Esquimalt.
Patrick Osterman, who made 41 saves to pick up the shutout for the Cats, gave his teammates much of the credit for the win and was already looking ahead to Saturday’s game.
“Just because we’ve had a good start doesn’t mean we can slow down,” he said. “We have to keep pushing, keep playing our game, keep pushing the pace and worry about us, not them.”
Osterman, in his first season with the Wolves, made a number of quality saves Thursday, including a point-blank stop on Marty Westhaver with about five minutes left in the third period.
Victoria once again made the most of their power play opportunities, with Mateo Albinati scoring twice with the man advantage. The Cougars are now five for 10 over the first two games, while the Wolves are zero for 10.
Matthew Sparrow scored a shorthanded empty net goal with 1:23 remaining to round out the scoring for the Cougars.
Victoria head coach Suneil Karod, who previously spoke about gaining the upper hand on the Wolves, appreciated his team’s game 2 effort after the slow start they had to game 1.
He figured the Wolves are going to come out with an even more physical approach Saturday night.
“Getting up two games on these guys is very important. They’re a skilled hockey club and at any time they can make you pay and they almost did,” he said. “If it wasn’t for our goalie [in game 2] it could be a totally different story … at the end of the day we haven’t really done anything yet until we get to that win number four, and we’re just focusing on number 3 at this point.”
Cougars forward Matthew Berryman, who bagged the winner in overtime in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory at The Q Centre, echoed the importance of not letting the early success go their heads.
“Every game, they’re not going to make it easy on us and we have to do everything we can to get another W,” he said.
Added Albinati: “It’s been a war for the first two and I don’t expect much to change for the third one.”
Game time tonight is 6 p.m. at The Q Centre, with game 4 going Sunday at 3:30 p.m. back at Archie Browning Sports Centre.