The Kerry Park Islanders didn’t play up to the level their coaches expect from them in either of their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League games last weekend, but still pulled out a split.
The Isles started the weekend with a 3-1 win on the road against the Saanich Braves on Friday, then fell 5-2 to the Campbell River Storm at home the next evening.
Newly reacquired Parker Ellis opened the scoring on Friday late in the first period, but the Braves knotted the score with a powerplay goal just 36 seconds into the middle frame. Jarret Malloch restored Kerry Park’s lead with a minute and six seconds left in the third, and Tanner Tiel iced the game with an empty-netter.
“From what the coaches told me, they could have played a lot better than they did, but we still won,” said Islanders owner Mark Osmond, who missed Friday’s contest.
JJ Pichette stood on his head, making 41 saves to keep the Isles in the game, while Saanich goalie Riley Mathieson stopped 27 shots. Keenan Eddy assisted on the first two Kerry Park goals.
The Isles were outplayed on Saturday by a Campbell River team that won the league championship last season, but Osmond felt his team could have won.
“I wasn’t impressed with the effort,” he stated. “Campbell River is a very fast, skilled team. We have skilled players, too, but the effort wasn’t there. We can beat those guys.”
Ellis returned to the Isles prior to last weekend’s games in a trade with the Westshore Wolves that sent Jakob McQuillin the other way. Ellis played the entire 2015-16 season with Kerry Park, then was dealt to Westshore early last season. He had four points for the Wolves in the first three games of this year, and made an instant impact in his return to the Isles by opening the scoring on Friday.
“Half the guys he knows, half the guys he doesn’t,” Osmond said of Ellis. “He’s upbeat and he wants to win.”
Defenceman Connor Bissett is expected to be out at least a month with a shoulder injury. Braydon Nelson was sidelined last weekend with a similar injury but could be back this week. In other personnel moves, the team traded Scott Smith to Peninsula for future considerations as the Isles continue to try to find the right balance.
“I was telling the Campbell River coach, we haven’t played our best lineup yet this year,” Osmond said. “We’ve always had someone out. But we still need a better effort from the other 50 per cent of the team.”
Still, the Isles are tied for first in the South Division 5-4, and Osmond believes they can go on a roll for the rest of the month.
“Looking at the games coming up, I’m challenging the team to win the next six games,” he said. “They’re all winnable games.”
That stretch begins this weekend as the Isles visit Peninsula Friday, then host Comox at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“If they play 60 minutes, they’ll win those games,” Osmond said. “The ball is in their court. Me and the coaches can’t play the games for them. They need to put the effort in.”
Osmond also announced that the Kerry Park players raised $600 in their recent bottle drive for Cops for Cancer, which the team then topped off to $1,000.