The Kerry Park Islanders had one of their best offensive outings of the 2019-20 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season last Friday.
Unfortunately, so did their opponents.
The Isles came within a goal of their season high of six, but the Peninsula Panthers hit double digits for the second time this year in a 10-5 victory for the home team at Panorama Recreation Centre.
“The kids played well,” Islanders owner Carl Ollech commented. “We just couldn’t get a W out of it.”
The Isles were down by three goals in the first period before Matt Baird got them on the board, and they continued chasing the Panthers throughout the game. It was 3-1 for Peninsula after one period and 5-2 after two.
“When you have a deficit like that, it’s hard to get back,” Ollech noted.
The Isles did score a season-high four powerplay goals, getting two from Baird and one each from Dawson Elzinga and Logan Furkalo, while Tyler Magnuson had the lone even-strength marker. Elzinga and Alex Villa posted two assists apiece. Nick Haisell stopped 34 of 44 shots over 55:14, and Spencer Deakin turned aside both shots he faced in 4:46 of action as the Isles were outshot 46-24.
The Isles were better in their own end the next night, but couldn’t find the net at the other end in a 4-0 loss to the Oceanside Generals in Parksville.
The Generals scored one goal in the first and three in the second. Deakin had 39 saves and his counterpart, Jacob Sweet, made 26 for the shutout. Duncan’s Isaac Leik, who had 50 points in 47 games for Kerry Park last year and recently returned to the VIJHL with the Generals after starting the season with the Humboldt Broncos, had a powerplay goal and an assist for Oceanside.
“We hit a lot of posts on Saturday night,” Ollech said. “A millimetre to the left or right, a lot of them would have gone in. You have games like that.”
The Isles were without leading scorer Parker Bergstrom all weekend as he travelled to the Mainland with the VIJHL all-star team to face the Pacific Junior Hockey League all-stars at the Ladner Leisure Centre. Bergstrom got to play alongside his former minor hockey teammate and former Islanders scoring star Evan Easton as the VIJHL lost 7-6 in overtime.
The Isles are now into the home stretch of the regular season. With seven games left, they hold a 10-point lead for the last playoff berth, over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, who have 10 games remaining. Ollech is optimistic that his team will pick up more points soon.
“Against teams that are in first and second place, it’s a little bit harder,” he said. “Coming up, we’ve got teams more around our level.”
That won’t be the case this weekend as the Isles will visit Peninsula (second in the South Division) Friday — the third meeting with the Panthers in the last four games — then play host to the Campbell River Storm (first in the North) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.