Much to owner Mark Osmond’s chagrin, the Kerry Park Islanders sandwiched a pair of strong outings against one of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s top teams — the Campbell River Storm — around a lacklustre performance against the Westshore Wolves, a team he feels they should be beating.
The Isles beat the Storm 3-2 in Campbell River last Friday, and lost to the same team 5-2 — including two empty-net goals — at home on Sunday. In between, they lost 6-2 to the Wolves at home.
“Friday I liked,” Osmond said. “We played 60 minutes of hockey and won 3-2. The next night, in our arena, against a team we should be beating, they played like chumps.”
In Campbell River on Friday, the Isles took a 1-0 first-period lead courtesy of Ryan Paisley. After the Storm tied the score midway through the second, Zack Smith restored the Kerry Park lead. Campbell River again drew even early in the third, but that lasted less than two minutes before Corey Peterson scored the eventual game-winner.
Peterson finished with a goal and two assists, while Paisley and Smith each had a goal and one helper. Chase Anderson earned the win in goal, stopping 35 of 37 shots.
Back home the next night, the Wolves opened the scoring, but Paisley scored to send the teams to the dressing rooms tied at 1-1. Paisley staked the team to a brief lead early in the second, but it was all Westshore after that. The Wolves scored two more in the second and three in the third. Ty Rennie was saddled with the loss despite a 40-save performance.
When the Isles hosted the Storm on Sunday afternoon, the final score was 5-2, but a pair of empty-netters belied how close the game actually was. The teams were knotted at 2-2 until the last 15 seconds of the second period, and Campbell River led just 3-2 until the Isles pulled Anderson late in the third.
“What was amazing to me was that Campbell River played only three lines,” Osmond said. “They had seven healthy scratches in the stands. We saw their top line every second shift.”
Smith and Kyle Green scored on Sunday, while Anderson made 34 saves on 37 shots.
The way his team played against Campbell River both times was what Osmond wants to see every game.
“I liked the effort,” he said. “We can play with them. That’s what’s frustrating. We play a great game, then we don’t show up for the next one.”
The 20-year-old veterans, like the line of Paisley, Peterson and Smith, and the youngest players aren’t the issue, Osmond said.
“It’s the middle ones that’s the problem,” he said. “I hate losing when we don’t play well, and so do the coaches. How do we transfer that to the players? It’s a consistency thing as well: if we play the same way every game, we’ll win more than we lose. They’ve proved to themselves that they can play with good teams and win.”
The Isles have just one game this weekend, hosting the Peninsula Panthers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The following weekend they have home games against the Saanich Braves and Oceanside Generals, and after that, a three-game with two against Peninsula and one against the Victoria Cougars.
“I’m going to challenge the guys to win the next five games,” Osmond said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t go the next five games without winning.”