Isles blank Braves, can’t hold off Cougars

After their first shutout win of the season, the Kerry Park Islanders weren’t able to carry the momentum over to beat Victoria.

Coming off their first shutout win of the 2015/16 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, the Kerry Park Islanders weren’t able to carry the momentum over to earn their first win over the Victoria Cougars since March of 2012.

Chase Anderson made 19 saves for his first VIJHL shutout and Kyle Green scored both goals, his fifth and sixth of the season, as the Isles beat the Saanich Braves 2-0 last Friday night.

Islanders owner Mark Osmond was thrilled to see Anderson earn his first junior B shutout.

“Both goalies [Anderson and Ty Rennie] have worked hard this year, so it’s great for one of them to get a shutout,” Osmond said. “It was a good team performance in front of him. Hopefully we’ll get one for Ty next. Shutouts are good for goalies, but it was also a team thing by the end; they were working hard to preserve it for him.”

Anderson was back in net on Saturday as the Isles hosted the Cougars, and even though he made 51 saves, his team was defeated 7-3.

Kerry Park got off to a fast start when captain David Bittner scored just 13 seconds in, and Osmond hoped that meant his team was setting the tone.

“I thought maybe, maybe…” he said.

It wasn’t to be. The Cougars came back, and led 2-1 at the end of the first and 5-2 at the end of the second, with Keenan Eddy scoring for the Islanders on the powerplay.

Caleb Franklin got the Isles back within two goals early in the third with his sixth goal of the season and fifth in the last six games, but two more goals locked up the win for Victoria.

The Cougars had a man advantage seven times, and even though they only scored twice, it still drastically affected the flow of the game.

“We gave them too many powerplay opportunities,” Osmond lamented. “You can’t give that team that many powerplays. They’re going to score.”

Still, Osmond couldn’t fault the players too much.

“The guys didn’t give up,” he said. “They fought to the end. The difference was generally a matter of penalties. Five-on-five, we have a good chance of beating them. We were in the game.

“Even in the loss, I felt all the kids worked hard. When they play hard and give us their all, I can’t complain about a loss.”

Although the Cougars have become Osmond’s white whale — his team hasn’t beaten Victoria since before he bought the franchise three years ago — he would sacrifice all the regular season games for a postseason victory.

“I’ll take eight losses in the regular season if we can beat them in the playoffs,” he said.

Of course, Osmond would prefer to finish second in the South Division and avoid facing the Cougars in the playoffs, at least in the first round.

After last weekend, the Isles slipped to fourth in the division, one point back of Peninsula Panthers. They have a chance to make up that ground, however, as their next six games are all against division opponents.

The Isles visit the Oceanside Generals this Saturday and the Westshore Wolves next Wednesday. They visit the Panthers on Dec. 30 for the first game of a home-and-home series that will conclude on Jan. 2.