The return of defenceman Jack Parsons has been a huge part of the Kerry Park Islanders’ early playoff success. (Citizen file)

The return of defenceman Jack Parsons has been a huge part of the Kerry Park Islanders’ early playoff success. (Citizen file)

Kerry Park Islanders can clinch series Tuesday

Fourth-seeded Isles shocking Victoria Cougars

The Kerry Park Islanders have a chance to close out their first-round playoff series against the Victoria Cougars on Tuesday night.

The Isles went into the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs as the fourth seed in the South Division, but they have defied expectations by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the top-seeded Cougars.

“It’s been a good playoffs so far,” Islanders head coach Brandon Cox acknowledged. “But the Cougars are no slouch. I’m definitely not counting it in the bag.”

The Isles won 5-1 in Victoria last Thursday, 4-3 in Mill Bay on Saturday, and 5-4 in overtime in Victoria again on Sunday. The teams will meet again at Kerry Park Arena on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Cox said he knew his team would give the Cougars a good series, but he wouldn’t have expected to win the first three games. A lot of elements have come together to propel the Isles to their early success.

“We’ve been physical,” the coach commented. “We’ve gotten a lot of jump from our younger guys. And getting Dylan Parsons back on D was key.”

Parsons, who returned to the lineup for the regular-season finale after suffering an injury in November, leads all Kerry Park defencemen with four points through the first three games and has allowed the team to move Matt Baird from the blueline to the forward ranks, giving them four balanced lines up front.

Offensively, young linemates Logan Walker and Mateo Sjoberg have seven and six points respectively, and veteran Jackson Egan has stepped up with three goals and three assists so far, and was named Kerry Park’s Player of the Game in back-to-back games.

“He has motivation, being an ex-Cougar and somebody they shopped around a couple of years ago,” Cox said of Egan. “He has extra incentive. He played his heart out for them, and they didn’t have room for him the next year.”

Dylan DeMelo has held the fort in goal with a 2.53 goals-against average and sparkling .927 save percentage.

“I think Dylan wants to show that he can play at the next level,” Cox said. “Which I believe he can.”

The Isles are hoping to turn their 3-0 lead into a sweep when they play host to the Cougars on Tuesday.

“We’ll come in ready,” Cox said.

VIJHL