At 3-1, Isles are off to best start in years

The Kerry Park Islanders are off to their best start since Mark Osmond bought the team

With three consecutive wins since they lost their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season opener, the Kerry Park Islanders are off to their best start since Mark Osmond bought the team midway through the 2012/13 campaign.

Last Thursday, the Isles dominated play against the Peninsula Panthers but needed overtime to get the 3-2 road win against a hot goalie, and on Saturday, they scored twice in the third period to beat the Westshore Wolves 4-2.

“They were good team performances,” Osmond said. “Everyone is working hard.”

Ty Smith potted the overtime winner against the Panthers on Thursday after Peninsula goalie Shawn Parkinson kept his team in the game with a phenomenal effort. The Isles peppered Parkinson with 45 shots, including 17 in the first period.

“Their goalie stood on his head,” Osmond said. “We should have won that game handily, but their goalie kept it close for them. It was total domination of the other team by everyone, really.”

Samson McLean scored for Kerry Park in the first period and Jacob Malloch potted one in the second.

Caleb Franklin, Will Connors and Mason Shadlock collected assists, and goalie Chase Anderson turned aside 24 of the 26 shots he faced.

“We made it a little tough on ourselves, but we pulled it out in the end,” Osmond said.

At home on Saturday, the Isles went up 2-0 on a pair of goals by Jarrett Malloch only to see the Wolves come back with one late in the first period and another early in the second. The Isles got a pair in the third to reclaim the lead as Kayden Peck scored the eventual game-winner, then set up Will Connors’s insurance marker.

Peck finished with a goal and two assists, Connor Bissett had three helpers, Brandon Wilson had two, and Jacob Malloch had one. Rett Rook faced 35 shots in the Kerry Park net and only two got past him, while the Isles beat Westshore netminder Jordan Spandli with four of their 36 attempts.

The Isles had to make do without forward Caleb Franklin on Saturday as he was called up to play for the junior A Cowichan Valley Capitals in Victoria. With two other players sitting out due to concussions, it was all hands on deck.

“We used the full squad this weekend,” Osmond said. “Everyone played well.”

This week, the Isles will visit the Victoria Cougars on Thursday, then play host to the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Isles haven’t beaten the Cougars since March of 2012, before Osmond purchased the club. With his team sitting ahead of the Cougars in the standings early this season, he hopes this is the game the team’s fortunes change.

“It’s kind of nice to be a point ahead going into a game against them,” he said. “I’ve got a good feeling about it. The time is ripe. I don’t think their team is as strong as it has been in years gone by.”

The Isles are a young team, while the Cougars have a veteran squad, but Osmond feels his team’s lack of experience might actually be useful in this situation.

“We’ve got 15 guys going down to play there on Thursday that have no preconception of Victoria,” he said. “If we play like we have been playing, there’s no reason we can’t go down there and have a good showing and maybe even win.”

The Buccaneers have just one win through four games so far this fall, but Osmond isn’t expecting his team to roll over them.

“We thought they’d be stronger and come out of the gates pretty good, but they haven’t been,” he said. “We don’t underestimate them. The players they have, I think they’re better than their record.”