The Kerry Park Islanders’ season came to an end abruptly and with great disappointment Thursday night, short-handed in overtime, thanks to a bench minor for too many men.
The Isles took a two-goal lead over the Victoria Cougars into the third period thanks to goals from Aledo Sdrakas (from Eric Stinson and Bryce Burnett) 10:05 into the first period and Lukas Tokic (from Kellan Bates and Carson Brown) 10:04 into the second period but the wily Cougars were not to be outdone. Victoria battled back, firing 19 shots on Kerry Park goalie Eric Young, eventually netting two goals in the third period to force overtime.
Young had stopped 48 of 50 shots heading into the extra period. It was the 51st shot, however, 9:10 into overtime, that ended the game and the playoff hopes of the Islanders.
Victoria won the game 3-2 and the best-of-seven series 4-1.
“The Cougars’ top line was tough to handle, their experience and skill were impressive and they were the reason why the Cougars came out on top,” said Isles head coach Brian Passmore. “We lost two overtime games that could have gone either way. We think we did not play well in Game 1 of the series but after that game it was very even. No one gave us a chance in this series; we did very well.”
Passmore noted four key forwards were out of Kerry Park’s lineup and they were missed.
“Nick Hovde, Ethan Taylor, Jacob Wingfield and Jack Strom were out and as a younger team we really could have taken this series, but lacked the experience,” Passmore explained. “Also, some costly in-game mistakes ending up being too much for us to overcome at this time of the season.
“We truly believed we were going to win the series. So it hurts, as I know every player was invested fully on winning the series. But as a group these players learn from this and it will make the team and individual stronger in the future. We left it all out there.”
Passmore said his players showed great character, energy and purpose.
It was the final junior game for Sdrakas, Keagen Abbott, and Carson Strom as the trio ages out of junior hockey.
Though the season was a rocky one for the Islanders, the team managed to turn things around midway through.
“We came from the bottom of the south standings to gain a playoff position,” Passmore said. “Since mid November we’ve been a hard-working team that steadily improved as the season went along. We played determined and with sense of mission.”
The league’s coaches took note. Seven different players were nominated by the VIJHL’s coaches for a total of 11 league-wide awards.
First-year scoring sensation Carson Brown has been nominated for three awards: the Brian Harrison Award for the league’s top forward, the Mac MacWilliams Memorial Trophy for unsung hero, and the Larry Lamoureaux Trophy for rookie of the year.
Tokic and Nathan Da Silva were also nominated for the rookie of the year award.
Goalie Eric Young was nominated for the Jamie Benn Trophy for league MVP. He and Stinson were also nominated for the unsung hero award with teammate Brown.
Stinson and Abbott were both nominated for the Clayton Stoner Award for the league’s top defender.
Sdrakas was nominated for the Jamie Robertson Trophy for the player who displays sportsmanship and agility.
The winner in each category will be published at the end of the playoffs.