Isles buoyed by close games with Cougars and Storm

Last Thursday, the Kerry Park Islanders came as close to beating the Victoria Cougars as they have in any game since March 8, 2012.

Last Thursday, the Kerry Park Islanders came as close to beating the Victoria Cougars as they have in any game since March 8, 2012.

Since their last win over Victoria, they’ve managed to take the Cougars to overtime on three occasions: in a playoff game on March 10, 2012; in a regular season game on Oct. 5, 2014; and again last week, in a game that ended with a 4-3 victory for the Cougars at Archie Browning Arena.

Islanders owner Mark Osmond was pleased to get that close to a win, and believed his players merited a better fate.

“I thought the boys deserved more than just one point,” he said. “They did enough to beat them.”

After the Cougars opened the scoring at the two-minute mark, the Isles came back with goals from Jarret Malloch and Connor Bissett to take a 2-1 lead late in the first period. Will Connors staked the Isles to a 3-1 advantage in the second period, but the Cougars got back within a goal with just 18 seconds left in the middle frame.

Osmond was concerned about a lack of calls against the Cougars, which might have been what led to an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to Kyle Peck early in the third period, with a 10-minute misconduct tacked on when he argued with the ref. The Cougars tied the game on the ensuing powerplay, then won it a minute and 13 seconds into overtime. Rett Rook was in net for Kerry Park, and stopped 34 of 38 shots.

Osmond wasn’t dismayed by the result.

“Our guys battled,” he said. “I haven’t got anything other than praise for our team.”

The Isles continued their strong play on Saturday when they travelled to Campbell River and lost 3-1 to the Storm.

Eric LeBlanc staked the Isles to a 1-0 lead late in the first period, and they stayed in front until the Storm scored on the powerplay late in the second. The eventual winning goal came with a minute and a half left in the second when a Kerry Park player tried to clear the puck out from behind the net. He misjudged the angle as he fired the puck toward the boards, accidentally banking it in off a Storm player’s shin guard. The Storm added another powerplay goal late in the third period.

Chase Anderson had a solid outing in net, stopping 43 of 46 shots.

Even though they ended the week without a win, the Isles spirits were buoyed by the way they kept pace with the Cougars and Storm, Osmond reported.

“It gave them self-belief,” he said. “They can play with these guys, and these are the top teams in the league the last few seasons. Sometimes when you lose, you have a bitter taste in your mouth, but I didn’t have that feeling. When a team gives 100 per cent and comes up a bit short, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

The Isles will get another crack at quieting the Storm when they play host to Campbell River on Saturday after visiting the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday. Osmond hopes home-ice advantage makes the difference.

“It would be nice to have a full house for that game,” he said. “Up there, they said that was one of the best games they’ve seen all year.”