Islanders rise above to win exhibition opener

"To win 4-2 and dominate two periods of the game was nice."

Although they could have easily been forgiven for a loss in their preseason exhibition opener, the Kerry Park Islanders shrugged off any distractions on Sunday evening and won their first game of the Aaron Spotts era 4-2 over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Islanders owner Mark Osmond said. “To win 4-2 and dominate two periods of the game was nice.”

Spotts was named the Islanders’ head coach late last week after previous head coach Dale Purinton was arrested in New York state following in connection with a break-in and assault (see story on page 3). The transition appears to have been a smooth one as the Isles emerged victorious despite dressing seven bubble players for Sunday’s contest.

Scoring for the Isles came from returning players Keegan Bissett, Tyson Malloch and Lynden Eddy, and hopeful Ty Berger, while Liam Kennedy, Josiah Nadon, Tanner Tiel and Corey Peterson registered assists.

Peterson is returning to the Islanders after spending the last season and a half with the Westshore Wolves. Starting in 2012, he spent the first year and a half of his career with the Isles before being traded to the Wolves. Over his three-year VIJHL career, Peterson has played 133 games, putting up 151 points on 48 goals and 103 assists.

Conner Bissett, brother of Keegan, got into the lineup and made a positive impression, while Shawnigan Lake School hockey program players Kennedy and Noah Crumb looked ready to contribute to the team. Unfortunately, because of their commitments to the school program, Shawnigan players won’t be full-time players for the Islanders, but Osmond hopes to get them into a few regular season games.

“If we can affiliate them, that would be awesome,” he said. “They have the ability to just step in and play.”

Merek Pipes, another Shawnigan product, played the first half of the game in goal.

According to Osmond, Pipes was supposed to play just one period, but the league struck down the Isles’ plan to play three goalies, so Pipes and Ross Manson split the duties.

“They both played well,” Manson said. “Merek was outstanding in the first part of the game.”

The Islanders’ camp continues through this week, followed by a home-and-home exhibition series with the Peninsula Panthers on the weekend. The teams will play in North Saanich on Friday, then at Kerry Park on Saturday, facing off at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the game in Mill Bay is free.