New year not kind to Cowichan’s Kerry Park Islanders so far

The Kerry Park Islanders stumbled into 2015 with a pair of losses on the road last weekend, extending their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League losing streak to four consecutive games.

The Isles lost 5-1 to the Peninsula Panthers last Friday and 4-0 to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings the following evening.

Nick Kean scored Kerry Park’s only goal of the weekend midway through the second period of Friday’s game, set up by Tyson Malloch and David Bittner. Goalie Ty Rennie was blasted with 55 shots and managed to stop 50 of them.

"They were ready to go," Isles owner Mark Osmond said of the Panthers. "Our guys were rusty and it showed. It wasn’t really a 5-1 game, but we made mistakes and they cost us."

On Saurday, the Isles had all 28 of their shots stopped by Comox’s Zachary Straza. Leighton Williams also made 28 saves in the Islanders net, but four pucks got past him.

"We outplayed them in the first period," Osmond said. "We should have been up 4-0, but we couldn’t put pucks in the net."

After scoring 30 times as they won their first four games of December, the Isles have now scored just four goals while losing their last four contests. The players are trying to be too fancy, Osmond believes.

"They’re trying to do too much with the puck instead of just shooting it at the net," he said.

The Isles are still in the middle of the South Division pack, but just one point ahead of the Saanich Braves. Their hopes of catching the Westshore Wolves are fading, as the gap now stands at 16 points with 12 games remaining. Osmond would be happy if his team can hold down its current spot until the end of the season.

"We want to finish third," he said. "That’s our goal. It will be a bit of a shootout. We have to win games, but we’ve got the team to do it."

The Isles got a boost recently when they learned that Cody Short could return to the lineup next month. Short was thought to be lost for the season because of an injury he suffered in September, but he has started skating with the team.

"Hopefully he will be back in the lineup in the first week of February," Osmond said.

"The players are all excited. They all respect him, and he was our best player before he got injured."

The Isles will visit the Victoria Cougars on Thursday, then host the Saanich Braves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before ending the weekend at Oceanside on Sunday.