Call it an Orange Crush.
Surprised to find new orange jerseys in their locker room prior to their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League home opener on Saturday, the Kerry Park Islanders went out and pounded the Peninsula Panthers 9-3.
“The players didn’t know anything about it until that day,” Osmond said of the jersey unveiling. “They were jumping up and down when they saw them. They thought it was pretty cool.”
It was an impressive debut for the new jersey, which will be their primary home outfit for the 2017-18 season, except for in October when they sport pink sweaters for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The jerseys didn’t reveal their magic immediately, as the Panthers opened the scoring with a powerplay goal just two minutes into the game. Brandon McClintick and Samson McLean replied for the Isles, who went to the first intermission with a 2-1 advantage.
“The first period was flat,” Osmond said. “They were trying to find some cohesion. But in the second, they came out and were just relentless.”
The floodgates opened in the second as the Isles got two goals from Jarret Malloch, and one each from McClintick, Kayden Peck and Evan Easton, interspersed with a couple by Peninsula, for a 7-3 Kerry Park lead after 40 minutes.
McClintick completed his hat trick in the third period, and Brandon Wilson added a powerplay marker to get the Isles to nine. Malloch, Peck and Wilson each finished the night with three points, while rookie defenceman Tory McClintick helped set up two of his brother’s goals, and Braydon Nelson also had a pair of helpers. Chase Anderson stopped 36 of 39 shots in the Kerry Park net.
“It was a good night,” Osmond said. “Everyone was happy. The fans were happy, I was happy, the team was happy, the coaches were happy.”
The win was a nice way to bounce back from a 5-2 loss to the Westshore Wolves at the Q Centre in last Wednesday’s season opener.
“We didn’t play well,” Osmond said. “We looked disjointed the whole game.”
The Isles spotted Westshore a four-goal lead before Malloch and Griffin Abbott replied in the latter half of the second period. The team was still looking for chemistry in that contest, Osmond suggested.
“We’d had, I think, one practice with the whole team, and it showed that game,” he said.
Osmond expected two new players to join the roster this week. Prior to the season opener, they added Abbott, who came from Nova Scotia along with forward Jakob McQuillin, a Victoria native who spent the last few years playing in the Maritimes.
Nelson, who spent last year with the junior A Alberni Valley Bulldogs, ended up sticking around with the Isles after making a late push to find another B.C. Hockey League team. He and Keenan Eddy, who played junior A in Ontario last year, bring valuable experience to Kerry Park.
“They make a huge difference to the way we play,” Osmond said.
After years of sometimes cobbling together lineups, the Isles are pleased with the forward corps they can ice this year.
“When you can send out four lines, it’s all good,” Osmond said. “It should be a good year. We just have to be responsible defensively, too.”
The Isles haven’t named a team captain yet, and had several players wearing A’s in the first two games. There’s no shortage of potential captains, and Osmond said the team will announce one soon.
“We’d like to get the boys’ opinions and see who they like,” he explained. “If it’s someone we like, we’ll go for it.”
The Isles play host to the Saanich Braves this Saturday at 7:30 p.m., then visit the Victoria Cougars on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The rebuilding Braves are off to an 0-2 start this season, but gave the powerhouse Campbell River Storm a scare in a 5-4 loss last Saturday.