Isles’ new owner excited for season opener Saturday

Kerry Park wins lone exhibition game on Wednesday night

Team owner Carl Ollech was already excited about the Kerry Park Islanders’ upcoming Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, and a win in the team’s lone preseason game only added to that excitement.

The Isles defeated the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 5-1 in Courtenay on Wednesday, although their lineup was stocked largely with APs, while the Glacier Kings had several regulars dressed.

“In the first period, we were a little bit soft as the guys worked on the system, but they played a good game,” Ollech said. “They’re starting to gel as a team. The second and third period were awesome.”

Ryan Grambart scored twice on Wednesday, and Cole Amado, Tanner Banks and Darcy Dawe added singles. Oren Louie, Zachary Blanchard, Dawson Elzinga and Grant Gilbertson each recorded assists. Dylan Wilson started the game in net and stopped all 13 shots he faced before backup Brady Thompson came in halfway through the second and stopped 10 of 11 shots.

Amado and fellow forward Riley Windsor and defenceman Lyndon Drummond were the only holdovers from the 2018-19 season to dress for Wednesday’s contest.

“We played a bunch of APs,” Ollech pointed out. “We still got a win out of it. Our top guys were sitting, taking notes.”

It may not have been the regular lineup the Isles will ice this season, but Ollech thought the system looked promising.

“If they do the same things we did against [Comox], I’ll be very excited,” he said. “They showed lots of heart. I’m excited for the kids, excited for the coaching, and excited for the community.”

Mitch Heslop leads the coaching staff, and Ollech is still hoping to add another assistant to the group that already includes James Gaertner, who also works with Shawnigan Lake School. Ollech is also hoping to recruit more volunteers for the season.

The VIJHL announced some changes over the summer, most notably to the overtime and playoff formats.

Overtime will be limited to one sudden-death period of three-on-three hockey, and if the game remains deadlocked after that session, it will proceed to a shootout.

In the playoffs, the league will return to a North/South format after two years of teams being ranked one-through-eight, regardless of division. The Isles will be the “swing team” in the playoffs. If the ninth-place team hails from the North Division, the Isles will move from South to North for the postseason, and will be seeded in the North based on their regular-season points.

The Isles will open the 2019-20 season at home this Saturday when they host the Peninsula Panthers at Kerry Park Arena starting at 7:30 p.m.

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