Isles stumble against Cougars, again

The Kerry Park Islanders will have to wait until next year to end their five-year-long losing streak against the Victoria Cougars.

The Kerry Park Islanders will have to wait until next year — or possibly this year’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs — to end their five-year-long losing streak against the Victoria Cougars.

The Isles haven’t beaten the Cougars since before current owner Mark Osmond took over the team in 2012. Including regular-season, playoff and exhibition games, that streak is now up to 56 games after Victoria won 5-3 at Kerry Park Arena on Tuesday.

The Cougars struck first at 4:37 of the opening period, but brothers Jarret and Jacob Malloch replied to give the Isles a brief 2-1 lead. The Cougars drew even soon after, and led 3-2 by the end of the first frame.

Victoria added two more in the second period. Jordan Martin answered back for Kerry Park in the third, but they couldn’t get any closer than that.

Matt Henwood made 39 saves in his first appearance in net for the Isles since coming over in a trade with Campbell River earlier this month, while the Isles fired 49 pucks at Liam McCloskey in the Cougars’ net.

“We’ve never had that many shots on a Victoria goalkeeper before,” Osmond noted. “The big difference was their goaltender. He made some outstanding saves.”

The loss to Victoria came after a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Saturday.

The Isles set the tone early as they were penalized four times in the first four minutes and nine seconds. The Bucs scored twice in the first period, including a powerplay goal just 72 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Caleb Franklin got the Isles on the board midway through the second, but the Bucs scored two more in the first half of the third period. Jarret Malloch narrowed the gap for the Isles before Nanaimo iced it with an empty netter. Rett Rook made 37 saves in the loss.

“We played well, but you can’t get two goals down to a good team,” Osmond said. “They were lazy penalties, and they cost us the game.”

The Isles play host to the Oceanside Generals Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Isles, now fourth in the South Division, need to stay ahead of the Generals and Peninsula Panthers to avoid playing in the VIJHL wildcard game.

“It’s a four-point game,” Osmond said. “We’ve got to get them mathematically below us. We need to make the gap between them and us bigger. We could even catch Westshore for third place.”