The Kerry Park Islanders’ defence was outstanding in two games against the Westshore Wolves last week, but the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League club’s offence sputtered.
The Isles allowed just three goals in back-to-back losses against the Wolves, but mustered only one of their own.
“We’re playing real good defence right now, led by our captain, Matt Baird, but we’ve got to find a way to put pucks in the net,” Kerry Park head coach Brandon Cox said. “You’re not going to win in this league if you can’t score. We’ve got to find a way to generate offence.”
It’s not a lack of effort, as the Isles outshot Westshore 17-2 in the third period of a 2-1 loss at home on Saturday. Their lone goal came from Louis Ferraro with 1:19 left to play, after goalie Bailey Monteith was pulled for the extra skater.
“You don’t see many times where you outshoot them 17-2, and that’s a good hockey team in Westshore,” Cox commented.
Westshore scored a powerplay goal in the first and a shorthanded marker in the second. Monteith finished with 29 saves on 31 shots, while Jacob Haydar stopped 36 of 37.
Kerry Park goalie Kai Koerner had the best outing of his young VIJHL career on Wednesday, stopping 39 of 40 shots. The only goal he allowed was scored by former Islander and Cowichan Valley minor hockey product Isaac Leik on a powerplay midway through the second period, one of only three man advantages the Isles allowed on the night. Koerner’s teammates couldn’t beat Wolves goalie Jacob Haydar, who finished with a 27-save shutout.
“He faced a lot of shots,” Cox said of Koerner. “He’s played very good. We’re very happy with him. We couldn’t put pucks in the net. We’re snakebitten right now.”
The back-to-back losses dropped the Isles to 4-5 on the season. They have two weeks off right now as they switch cohorts. The schedule was revised last week, and Kerry Park will now play all six of their games this month against the Peninsula Panthers, starting on Nov. 20. The team will use the break to look for ways to score.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Cox said. “We’ve got to stay with the process. We’ve won a couple of games we probably shouldn’t have, and we probably should have had better fates on Wednesday and Saturday. I was pretty happy with the effort both games.”
The Isles did add a promising newcomer last week in 6-foot-8 defenceman Evan Wammes, who made his debut on Saturday. The smooth-skating 18-year-old from Petrolia, Ont. was released from the junior A Victoria Grizzlies’ extended training camp. He played last year with the Northern Colorado Eagles of the Western States Hockey League, 11 points and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games. While Wammes helps shore up the blueline, he won’t solve the team’s problems up front.
“The issue wasn’t going to be keeping pucks out of the net,” Cox acknowledged. “We’re excited about what we have on the back end.
“We’ve got so many guys snakebit, but we’ll come out of it. It would be more concerning if we weren’t generating opportunities, but we are creating opportunities. They’ll go our way later in the season and in the playoffs. It will all wash out in the end.”