With the recent signings of Cowichan minor hockey products Tanner Tiel and Ty Berger, the Kerry Park Islanders have their roster at 23 players, and they are all set to kick off the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season.
“It’s a good mix of veterans and young guys,” Islanders owner Mark Osmond said.
In addition to Tiel and Berger, the Isles have also brought on board local players Caleb Franklin, Connor Bissett and Dawson Haines, all 17 or younger. At the other end of the spectrum is a full complement of 20-year-olds led by captain David Bittner and rounded out by Chris Carpentier, Lynden Eddy, Kyle Green, Ryan Paisley, Corey Peterson and Zack Smith.
The team boasts three sets of brothers as well: Keegan and Connor Bissett, Zack and Ty Smith, and Lynden and Keenan Eddy. Keenan Eddy just returned to the Isles from the Cowichan Valley Capitals camp where he was a late cut, but is expected to be back as an affiliate.
The Isles played their first regular-season game on Thursday evening, looking to open the season with a win over the Victoria Cougars. Results were not available at press time.
“We told them we’re not going down to play, we’re going down to win,” Osmond said.
The team was looking for its first win over Victoria since Osmond bought the team in 2012.
“We came close last year when we went to overtime in our barn, but that’s the closest we’ve been,” he said. “It’s time; we’re due.”
The Isles will make their home debut Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Peninsula Panthers. They’re starting the season a little later than most VIJHL teams, but that won’t make a difference in the long run.
“Lots of teams have already played a couple of games,” Osmond said. “We’ve got a heavy schedule in October and November, so we’ll be catching up pretty quick. I’m optimistic and hopeful of a banner season for this team.”
On Sunday, from 9 a.m. to
3 p.m., the Kerry Park players are doing a six-hour spin bike relay in front of Mill Bay Thrifty Foods, a fundraiser to help Rob Webb — an RCMP officer and assistant coach of the Islanders — collect money for Tour de Rock.
The bikes are being provided by Valley Health and Fitness, and Cycle Therapy is providing a tent.
Players have been canvassing for donations, and money will also be collected onsite.
“Maybe you can make them cycle quicker for a price,” Osmond laughed.