The Kerry Park Islanders’ 2019-20 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season came to an end on Sunday after the Oceanside Generals completed the sweep of the North Division semifinal with a 5-1 win at Kerry Park Arena.
It wasn’t an easy season for the rebuilding club, admitted Islanders owner Carl Ollech, who bought the team out of receivership just before the start of the year, but in the end, it was only two games shorter than the 2018-19 campaign.
“For a team where we we’re at, when you sit back and think about it, we did quite well,” he said. “I’m proud of the kids. The kids worked hard every shift. It’s all part of that. They earned the right to go to playoffs.”
The Generals won the first two games 4-1 and 7-1, then prevailed 6-1 in Parksville on Friday before closing out the series on Sunday.
The Isles trailed down 3-1 after the first period on Friday, getting their lone goal from Kenyon Carda, who recorded his first point of the year, regular season or playoffs. The Generals added one more in the second and two in the third. Spencer Deakin made 40 saves as Isles were outshot 46-19, and Cowichan Valley product and former Islander Isaac Leik had two goals for Oceanside, including the game-winner.
On Sunday, the Generals opened the scoring in the first, but Parker Bergstrom evened the score with a powerplay goal 32 seconds into the middle frame. It was all Generals on the scoreboard from that point on. Deakin racked up 39 saves as the Isles were outshot 44-32, and finished the playoffs with 180 saves on 202 shots over four games.
Ollech believed his team would have lasted longer in the playoffs against a different opponent. Seeded into the North Division because they out-performed the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in the regular season, the Isles ended up battling first-place Oceanside, who moved ahead of the Campbell River Storm in the last week before playoffs.
“I think if we played Campbell River, we would have had a couple more wins in there,” he said. “Beating Campbell River? No. But they’re more our style. Oceanside is a very strong team, an older team. Those guys have played together a lot of years. These guys [the Isles] had just a season, half a season for some of them, on the team.”
With two goals and an assist over four games, Bergstrom was Kerry Park’s leading scorer in the playoffs, as he was in the regular season, and was the only Islander to post more than one point in the postseason. Bergstrom, who played juvenile and beer league hockey before switching to junior B this year, is also one of four players aging out of junior, along with Deakin, forward Riley Windsor, who was among the team’s top scorers the last couple of years but missed the 2020 playoffs with a broken knuckle, and towering defenceman Arsh Dhillon.
Ollech expressed his appreciation for all four senior players.
“Dhillon was a driving force on the defensive side,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal kid and we were happy to have him come back and play with us this year. He was a definite asset.
“Riley is a great kid. It sucked that he got hurt right before the playoffs. That was his last kick at the can, and it was very unfortunate.
“Deakin, thank god we had him. It was an added benefit to the Islanders having him there. He works hard, he loves the game, and he works hard for his team all the time.
“Parker was a 20-year-old rookie. Too bad he didn’t have a couple more years in the system; he could have been one of the top goal-scorers in the league.”
Ollech also praised the coaching staff of James Gaertner, Harry Benson and Ryan Ollech, and the volunteers who “stuck around and believed in what I wanted to see happen.”
“It’s been a neat ride,” he said.