A huge third-period rally and a career night for team captain Matt Baird propelled the Kerry Park Islanders to an 8-6 victory over the Westshore Wolves in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action in Mill Bay on Saturday night.
The Isles trailed 5-1 with less than four minutes to play in the second period, but outscored the Wolves 7-1 down the stretch in a thrilling comeback.
Baird, meanwhile, had two goals and two helpers as one of three Kerry Park skaters to post four points, joining Reid Fitzpatrick (two goals, two assists) and Dawson Elzinga (four assists).
“We came out down 5-2 going into the third,” Islanders head coach Brandon Cox noted. “We’d been getting chances, but the pucks were going their way. Westshore had given up seven goals to Saanich just the night before, so we knew they were vulnerable to giving up goals and we could compete.”
Fitzpatrick scored a powerplay goal late in the second period to cut the deficit to 5-2, but the Isles still had a big hill to climb. Just 39 seconds into the third, it looked like they might be in trouble when Tobin Bergman was penalized five minutes and a game misconduct for head contact on a big hit, but the Isles killed off that penalty and turned the momentum in their favour.
Jackson Egan got things going at 6:43 of the third, then Colten Thompson scored at 7:00 and 8:23 before Louis Ferraro notched his first of the year at 12:05 to make it 6-5 in the Isles’ favour. Westshore scored again to make it 6-6, but Fitzpatrick restored the Islanders’ lead with 1:06 left to play and Baird scored his second of the night into an empty net.
In addition to the three players who each put up four points, the Isles also got multi-point nights from Thompson, who finished with two goals and one assist, and Kirk Whittaker, with a pair of helpers.
Goalie Kai Koerner also made his first start at the junior level and overcame some bad luck in the first period to earn the win. The Wolves’ first goal bounced in off a defenceman, and the third was the result of an error on the Kerry Park bench as they didn’t get all their skaters out quickly enough on a shift change. In the end, Koerner stopped 30 of 36 shots to out-duel Westshore’s Brandon Snider, who stopped 33 of 40.
“He made some big saves in the second and third,” Cox said of Koerner.
Cox was pleased to see his team beat a club that is expected to be a power in the VIJHL this year.
“They came in 2-0 after two big wins versus Saanich,” he said. “They’ve got older players, a big team. It was a good win.”
The Isles looked to improve their own record to 3-1 with another win over the Wolves as the home-and-home series wrapped up Wednesday night. That will be followed by another home-and-home against the Saanich Predators this weekend. The teams play at George Pearkes Arena on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and at Kerry Park on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.