The Kerry Park Islanders rode a three-goal opening period and another stellar performance by goaltender Bailey Monteith to a 4-1 home win over the Westshore Wolves on Saturday.
The one goal Monteith allowed on Saturday may have been kicked in, although that wasn’t the call on the ice. Regardless, he finished the night with 43 saves, his second straight 40-plus save effort, and is among the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s best in save percentage.
“We’re getting pretty elite-level goaltending out of him,” Islanders head coach Brandon Cox said. “I can’t say enough good things.”
Tobin Bergman opened the scoring with a shorthanded marker, the first goal of the season for the two-way forward.
“He’s only 17, but he plays a hard game,” Cox commented. “He doesn’t play like he’s 17. He’s a strong, hard player to play against.”
As young as he is, Cox wouldn’t be surprised to see Bergman skating in the junior A ranks one day.
“For sure, I think he’s going in the right direction,” the coach said.
Another Islander who could be headed that way is 17-year-old defenceman Tynan Klein-Beekman, who is in his first full season in the VIJHL after seeing time as an AP with Comox Valley and Campbell River over the last two years.
“He’s definitely a kid I’ll be talking to junior A coaches about,” Cox stated.
Fellow blueliner and unsung hero Kenyon Carda was a big part of the defensive effort on Saturday that kept a lot of the shots to the outside, making Monteith’s job a little easier.
Kirk Whittaker and Louis Ferraro also scored in the first 20 minutes as the Isles opened up a solid lead. The Wolves finally solved Monteith midway through the third, before Colten Thompson fired his fourth of the season into an empty net.
Ferraro, Whittaker and Reid Fitzpatrick finished the night with two points apiece, and remain among the league’s top scorers in the early going. Ferraro is tied for the league lead with seven goals, and tied for second with 13 points. Fitzpatrick is tied for second with eight assists and sixth with 12 points, and Whittaker’s 10 points are tied for 13th.
Now 4-3 on the season, the Isles are an early surprise on the junior B circuit, Cox admits.
“We’re definitely exceeding expectations,” he said. “Our first line is putting up points. We have two rookie goaltenders who are playing well for us. We’re exceeding expectations, but saying that, we’re a better hockey team than people gave us credit for. They’re starting to give us the respect that they probably didn’t have for us before the season.”
The Isles visited Westshore on Wednesday, and will play host to the Wolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before taking two weeks off to change cohorts: switching out the Wolves for the Victoria Cougars while the Saanich Predators will still be part of the group. The Isles have seen a lot of the same faces so far, but Cox feels the cohort plan is still better than no hockey at all.
“It’s good for the kids to be playing hockey,” the coach said. “I haven’t had anyone say anything about it yet.”