With their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season opener set for Wednesday evening, the Kerry Park Islanders were still making some late adjustments to their lineup earlier this week.
“We are still trying to finalize our team,” Islanders owner Mark Osmond said. “We’re getting close.”
The Isles were still looking for a defenceman this week after the announcement from blueliner Josiah Nadon that he won’t be suiting up for the team this year due to a heavy course load at UVic. A veteran of more than 100 career VIJHL games, Nadon had 10 points in 14 regular season games last year, another nine points in 11 playoff contests, and his presence will be missed. Osmond is holding out hope he will rejoin the team later in the season.
“We’ve left the door open for him,” Osmond said. “You can’t be mad at the kid. His priorities are in the right place.”
Another veteran player, forward Keenan Eddy, will start the season with Kerry Park after being a late cut from the Cowichan Valley Capitals camp. Eddy was a standout for the Isles in 2015-16 before playing junior A last season in Nanaimo. The Duncan native opted to return to the West Coast this season, and Osmond wants to see him get a chance to stick with the Caps.
“He strengthens us considerably,” Osmond said. “Hopefully he’ll do well starting with us and they’ll call him up.”
Braydon Nelson remains on the fence as he looks for a junior A team to play with. Nelson spent last season with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, then decided to play with Kerry Park this year. He is now making a late push to find a new junior A team.
“Maybe he’ll start the year with us,” Osmond said. “At least he’ll be playing.”
In preseason action, the Isles beat the Victoria Cougars 6-2 at Archie Browning Arena last Tuesday, despite dressing six minor hockey players. It was Kerry Park’s first win of any sort in Victoria since March 2012.
“It’s the first time we’ve come out of that building with a win in five years,” Osmond noted. “I know it’s exhibition, but I’ll take them however we can get them.”
On Thursday, the Isles lost 5-3 to the Buccaneers in Nanaimo, surrendering a 2-0 lead in the process.
“Nanaimo will have a good team this year,” Osmond said. “They have a lot of good veterans who were playing on Thursday.”
The Isles open the regular season this Wednesday at Westshore, then play their home opener Saturday against the Peninsula Panthers, facing off at 7:30 p.m.