Over the weekend the Lake Cowichan Kraken fell on home ice but split two on the road, including emerging victorious in a hard-hitting game over cross-town rivals, the Kerry Park Islanders.
On Thursday, Sept. 14 the Kraken travelled to Archie Browning Arena to face off against the Victoria Cougars and despite goalie Owen Bonthius stopping 35 shots, six found their way past both the defence and the goaltender and into the back of the net.
At the other end of the ice, rookie Ryan Cooper kept up his point-per-game pace, scoring the Kraken’s only goal in the 6-1 loss.
On Saturday the Kraken didn’t have to go far but they skated miles once they got there. It was a chippy, back-and-forth affair with cross-town rival Kerry Park Islanders, but the end result favoured Lake Cowichan by a 4-3 score.
With no scoring in the first, the Kraken found themselves down two goals midway through the second period. That’s when Kyler Smith potted his first of the year from Andrew White and Parker Newman to pull his team to within one headed into the final frame.
With both teams eyeing the win, things got hard-hitting in a hurry.
Head coach James Gaertner wasn’t surprised.
“Kerry Park always plays hard,” he said. “They’re a pretty north-south, chip-and-run and a heavy team. It took our guys a little bit to get used to it and once they adapted, they took over in the second half of the game.”
Newman pulled the Kraken even just over seven minutes into the third, from Smith and White, before Declan Stewart scored his first-ever goal in the league to give Lake Cowichan the 3-2 lead.
The discipline of both teams devolved from there, with 24 penalties called in the third period alone.
“It was a good job on our guys’ part in sticking up for each other but that’s not something we don’t want see a lot of,” Gaertner said.
Team captain Dallas Brown extended the Kraken’s lead on the powerplay with 1:02 remaining and Cooper kept up his scoring pace, working with Carter Anderson to assist on the goal.
A Kerry Park powerplay after a flurry of penalties offered the Isles a chance to score once more, which they did with the man advantage at 19:59 of the third period to end the game 4-3.
The puck drops on the continuing rivalry at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena in a game that’s sure to be worth the price of admission.
Fresh off their win the night before, the Kraken played host to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Sunday evening.
Just like the night before, Lake Cowichan found themselves down by two goals and had to work to make a game of it. And work they did.
Rees Aebisher scored his first of the season in the first and Stewart netted his second from the hot stick of Cooper early in the second.
Not to be out-worked, Comox battled back with two more in the second to give the Glacier kings a 4-2 lead heading into the third. Kyler Smith scored late in the third from White and Luke Bennett but it was too little too late and the home team fell 4-3.
Following the game, Cooper sat 12th on the league’s scoring list with a 1.40 point-per-game average.
“He’s a pretty good player,” Gaertner said of the Ontario-born forward. “He did play a little bit of junior last year out east. He’s a pretty special player.”
Overall the coach said he’s pleased with his team five games into the season.
“They’re building resilience and the ability to push back when they need to,” he said.
The Kraken visit Rod Brind’Amour Arena to meet the Campbell River Storm this Friday, Sept. 22 before returning home to host the same team on Sunday, Sept. 24. The pucks drop at 7:30 p.m. on the road and 5:30 p.m. at home.