There's much more to the incredible start to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season for the Victoria Cougars than the obvious 23-game streak without a single regulation-time loss.
Dig even deeper and you find the Cougars are just 11 days from going a full calendar year without a single defeat in regulation time.
It was Dec. 3, 2011, when the defending VIJHL champions dropped a 4-2 road decision to the Oceanside Generals. Since then - in regular-season play - their only setback was a 4-3 shootout loss to Comox Valley back on Sept. 22, a minor blemish on a major run.
"Things are pretty good on the ice for us in our world, but I also know it's a long year," said Cougars general manager and governor Gary Boyer. "I also know it's a long year and it's not about what we're doing right now, it's what you do later on."
At this stage his team is on such an incredible streak that it's amazing the VIJHL hasn't promoted what is almost a full year of near perfection.
"I know we've almost gone a full calendar year," said Boyer. "The one loss we've had was a shootout loss and even that one went five or six shooters deep.
"It really is thanks to a lot of pride within the organization. You have to recruit the right people and you have to have the right coaching staff, which we do. They put the team's success first and refuse to lose."
At 22-0-1, the Cougars will likely face their toughest test yet with a back-to-back home-and-home series against the Saanich Braves starting tonight - which marks the midway point to the Cougars' season - at 7 at Archie Browning Arena before moving to Pearkes Arena on Friday.
If you add the 16 straight regular-season wins the Cougars finished last season on, you have an incredible journey of 38-0-1.
"Quite a phenomenon really, especially at this age group where players have to deal with personal issues, school and work," said Boyer.
"I've been around the league for 12 years and I've never seen anything like it.
The Campbell River Storm used to dominate the league, but they were losing 10 or 12 games a year."
Unfortunately, the VIJHL does a bad job of keeping records, so it's hard to determine, but 38-0-1 over almost 51 weeks is something that doesn't happen often, if ever.
And the No. 1 ranked Junior B team in the province (Saanich at 16-4 is No. 3 behind the 17-3-1-0 Delta Ice Hawks) is doing it by scoring a bushel of goals - 143 for and have allowed just 47 against for a plus-96 differential.
Brody Coulter and Sam Rice lead the way with 66 and 57 points in 23 and 22 games respectively.
"I can't emphasize enough about these two kids. Yeah, they get a lot of points, but defensively they are excellent," said Cougars head coach Mark Van Helvoirt. "And they're great leaders. It's more than just points."
Ty Jones of Saanich is third with 48 points, and then there are another three Cougars in the top seven with Dane Freeney, Mark Walton and Ben Kinshella with 44, 34 and 33 respectively.
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