The Kerry Park Islanders scored just once in a pair of losses last weekend, but there was no faulting the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team’s effort.
Already low on players after promotions to junior A, trades and injuries had gutted the roster in January, the Isles lost two more key players on Friday and Saturday, but persevered the best they could.
"Considering what we had left for players, especially against Campbell River [on Saturday], I was pretty proud of our guys," Islanders owner Mark Osmond said.
Cody Short, who had stepped up as the team’s top centre following the departure of several veterans, suffered a separated shoulder in Friday’s game, a 3-0 loss to the Peninsula Panthers.
Brendan Gowanlock broke his hand in a fight with former Islander Nick Hayes in a 6-1 loss to the Campbell River Storm on Saturday.
"They’re dropping like flies," Osmond said.
Normally in such a situation the Isles would try to fill the empty slots with affiliate players, but with the midget teams in playoffs, APs are hard to come by. The Isles did manage to get Keegan Bisset from the midget Tier 1 Cowichan Valley Capitals for Saturday’s game.
The Isles put forth their best efforts regardless. On Friday, they held the powerful Panthers to just three goals and limited former Isle Alex Milligan to a single assist after he scored four times against the Victoria Cougars the night before.
"We gifted them two goals," Osmond said. "For that team, with all the firepower they have, to limit them to three goals is an accomplishment."
On Saturday, the North Division leading Storm scored four of their six goals on the powerplay.
"It wasn’t for a lack of trying," Osmond said. "With the personnel we have, for the effort they put in, you couldn’t ask for much more."
Matt Osmond scored the Isles’ only goal of the weekend with just over three minutes left to play on Saturday.
The Isles have four games left before the playoffs, where they will face the Victoria Cougars. This Friday, the team will visit Saanich, and on Saturday, they will host the Westshore Wolves in a 3:30 p.m. matinee at the Island Savings Centre.
"We aren’t going to take it easy, even if we are short-staffed," Osmond said.