Isles lose two key players, then three games

It’s just a week old, but 2014 hasn’t been a good year for the Kerry Park Islanders.

Within the first four days of the New Year, the junior B hockey club lost two of its better players, then lost three consecutive road games, earning just a single point.

"It wasn’t a good start to the year," team owner Mark Osmond admitted. "We had a two-week layoff; maybe we shouldn’t have not done anything for two weeks."

Prior to their first game of 2014, the Isles learned that first-line forward Braedan Cross and toppairing defenceman Taylor Armbruster would be jumping up to the junior A ranks with the B.C. Hockey League’s Trail Smoke Eaters, moves that are bittersweet for Kerry Park.

"It’s awesome for them, and awesome for the program," Osmond said. "But it’s kind of crappy this time of year. We were hoping to put a run together."

With improved play in November and December, the Isles were aiming for second place in the South Division and a better playoff berth. Unless they can replace Cross, their second-leading scorer, and Armbruster, those plans are in jeopardy. And this isn’t a good time of year for junior B teams to be hunting for talent.

"There aren’t many players out there we can go after," Osmond acknowledged. "It’s tough to replace those kinds of players in this league. The trouble with junior B is that we’re a development league for other leagues, but we want to put a quality product on the ice."

The Isles won’t be holding a fire sale, but Osmond has let his local products who are in their final years of junior eligibility – such as Alex Milligan, Tylor Branzsen and Eric Mansueti – know that he will consider trading them to contenders if they want it.

"I’ve told them, ‘We won’t trade you unless you ask,’" he said. "’It’s your decision; we won’t me making it for you."

The team fared no better when it came to actually playing games, beginning with a 7-4 loss to the Nanaimo Buccaneers last Thursday.

"We beat them the last two games, so they really wanted to beat us," Osmond said.

The Isles trailed 2-0 after one period and 6-1 after two. Branzsen had two goals and one assist, while Milligan and Francis Slicer had one of each, and Cody Short had two helpers. Jackson Jane started the game in goal and lasted two periods, making 29 saves on 25 shots before Leighton Williams came in and stopped four of five.

Against the Saanich Braves on Friday, Slicer opened the scoring for Kerry Park, but by the three-minute mark of the middle frame, the Isles were down 4-1. Mansueti made it 4-2 late in the second period, and Branzsen got his team within one early in the third, but the tying goal never materialized.

Mansueti and Branzsen added assists to their goals, and blueliner Tyler Fraser recorded two helpers. Williams went the distance in net, making 26 saves on 30 shots.

Finally, the Isles wrapped up the weekend with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Oceanside Generals, despite a natural hat trick from Cody Short. Short scored twice late in the second period and again in the third to force extra time, but the Generals managed one more late in the second overtime period after the Isles were denied on a penalty shot.

"Cody has played really well for us," Osmond said. "The puck just sticks to his stick. He works hard every night. He’s stepping up this year, for sure; he’s consistent."

Milligan had the Isles’ other marker and set up one of Short’s, while Slicer and Kyle Green had two assists apiece. Jane returned to the crease and had a stellar outing with 43 saves on 48 shots. Skating for the Generals, Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey product Ryan Hogg scored his first junior B goal in his second game, and caught the eye of Osmond, who wished he had signed Hogg as an affiliate.

"He’s a solid little player for 15," Osmond said. "He wasn’t out of place."

The Isles have been using a pair of Cowichan midget APs of their own for the last few games, with Seth Davis and Keegan Bisset getting plenty of work and possible chances at regular roster spots. Both players did double duty over the weekend, playing in a tournament with the midget Tier 1 Capitals as well as for the Isles.

The challenging stretch for the Isles continues this Thursday with a visit to the Cougars in Victoria. On Saturday, they will finally return to their home arena to host the Braves at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

DAVID VAN DEVENTER
Cowichan Citizen and Lake Cowichan Gazette announce new publisher

David van Deventer has been with Black Press Media since 2014

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
COVID vaccine clinic coming to Lake Cowichan as area numbers lag

Clinic will operate at arena starting June 23

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New Indigenous treatment centre to be built near Duncan

Centre will help survivors of residential schools

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Most Read