Showing that they won’t back down despite having their ranks gutted in the last couple of weeks, the Kerry Park Islanders put forth a tremendous team effort in a 6-2 win over the Saanich Braves on Saturday evening.
Six different players scored, and only three were left off the scoresheet as the Isles proved they are still a competitor in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
"We may have lost some excellent players, but we still have some excellent players left," Islanders owner Mark Osmond said. "After what they went through in the last week and a half, with players going out and players coming in, they did pretty well."
Newcomer Adam Page joined Francis Slicer, Hobin Zinck, Brendan Gowanlock, Matt Osmond and Jamie Jensen in putting the puck in the Saanich net. Zinck added one assist, and Ryan Paisley and Tyler Fraser had two helpers apiece.
Leighton Williams, now ensconced as the team’s numberone netminder, stopped 33 of 35 shots for the win.
The victory came just days after the Isles traded away four key players in the lead-up to the transaction deadline last Friday. Osmond made the deals reluctantly, but wanted to keep the local players happy.
"They asked, so I did it," he said. "I tried to do the best for everybody and for the club’s long-term future."
Forwards Alex Milligan and Tylor Branzsen, the Isles’ top two scorers prior to last week, were sent to the Peninsula Panthers in exchange for defenceman Page and forward Nick Kean. Veteran goalie Jackson Jane was traded to the Nanaimo Buccaneers for rookie puckstop Michael Herringer. And defenceman Nick Hayes went to the Campbell River Storm for future considerations.
In a state of flux, with Milligan and Branzsen already gone, but with Jane and Hayes still in the lineup, the Isles paid a visit to the Victoria Cougars last Thursday, losing 7-1. After falling behind 4-0 in the first period, they played better down the stretch. Paisley scored the lone goal, and Williams made 38 saves.
Despite having lost four players last week and two the week before when Braedan Cross and Taylor Armbruster joined the junior A Trail Smoke Eaters for the remainder of the season, the Isles aren’t throwing in the towel.
"We’re not giving up," Osmond said. "Put it that way."
The team has 10 games left in the regular season and is still hoping to move past the Westshore Wolves into third place in the South Division.
The Isles play the Wolves this Saturday at the Island Savings Centre as part of Hockey Day in the Valley, facing off at 3 p.m. On Sunday, they host the Victoria Cougars at Kerry Park at 3 p.m.