Players from the Victoria Cougars and Nanaimo Bucanneers converge in the corner at Archie Browning Sports Centre during a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game Sunday in Esquimalt. The visitors came away with a 4-1 win. Photo by Spencer Pickles/Black Press

Bucs clip Cougars in matchup of first-place teams

Nanaimo’s junior B hockey team had two home games this week

Trent Bell scored two goals as the league-leading Nanaimo Buccaneers posted a 4-1 victory over the Victoria Cougars on Sunday afternoon in Esquimalt.

Bell opened the scoring with a shorthanded marker at 6:06 of the first period when his centering pass deflected in off a Victoria defender. The Bucs extended their lead to 2-0 late in the second when Bell one-timed a pass from Jayden Schubert over Cougars goalie Nate Reinhart.

Mateo Albinati pulled the Cougars within a goal 3:35 into the third period, scoring his fourth goal in as many games. But the visitors struck quickly, with Owen Dalman deflecting a Brandon Roberge pass for the 3-1 goal just 14 seconds later.

Nanaimo (29-7-0-1) sealed the deal with a power play goal from Cam Nickerson at the 8:08 mark. Reinhart finished with 38 saves, while Derek Krall made 35 saves for Nanaimo.

Victoria defenceman Carl Ewert left the game late in the first period but returned early in the second sporting a full cage. The Cougars defenseman lost four teeth after being clipped by a high stick from Schubert, who received a double minor penalty on the play.

GAME ON … Nanaimo has two home games this week, taking on the Campbell River Storm on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre and then hosting the Peninsula Panthers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the NIC.

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