The Kerry Park Islanders played two back-to-back overtime losses last week, but other than each one earning the team a single point in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League standings, the games had little in common.
The Isles lost 3-2 to the Victoria Cougars on Thursday and 6-5 at home against the Saanich Braves on Saturday. In the view of head coach Aaron Spotts, Thursday’s game was a solid and thorough team effort despite difficult circumstances, but Saturday’s was the opposite in many ways.
Missing some key regulars and playing on the road, the Isles nonetheless dug deep and found some inspiration on Thursday.
“We were playing a bit short-staffed,” Spotts noted. “We had four APs. I thought they did a good job. And other guys stepped up as well.”
After a scoreless first period, the Cougars got on the board first thanks to a powerplay goal by Duncan product Cam LeSergent. Logan Furkalo replied for the Isles before the second was over.
Josh Parkin gave Kerry Park the lead less than two minutes into the third, but the Cougars scored with just over three minutes left to force overtime. They carried that momentum into overtime, and Booker Chacalias needed just 54 seconds to pot the winner.
Charles-Olivier Lepage stopped 33 of 36 shots in the Kerry Park net, while Owen Sikkes made 26 saves in Victoria’s end.
“It was a good, competitive, open game,” Spotts said. “I thought the effort was there and our compete level was good.”
Some of that was lacking on Saturday as the Isles failed to get off to the start they wanted against Saanich, and found themselves playing catchup for most of the game, regardless of the actual score.
“I thought we were pretty lethargic in the first period,” Spotts said. “There wasn’t a lot of energy on our bench. Saanich came to play, and it took us half the game to get our feet going and play the way we can.
“Saanich played a more complete game than we did, and when you do that, you’re usually rewarded.”
The Braves opened the scoring, but the Isles scored the next two: one each by Furkalo and Riley Windsor. Saanich tied the score before the end of the first period, then added three more in the first half of the second.
The Isles got back in the game before the second was over as Jamie Roberts scored, and then Furkalo added his second of the night. Evan Easton assisted on both second-period goals to keep pace with Chacalias atop the VIJHL scoring race, where they each have 38 points, and Brandon McClintick earned his second and third assists of the night, increasing his league-leading total to 26.
Rookie forward Dan Paseschnikoff notched his first VIJHL goal midway through the third period to send the game to overtime, but Braves forward Jake Wilhelm scored 24 seconds into the extra frame.
Rett Rook started in the Kerry Park net and allowed four goals on 19 shots before he was relieved by Lepage, who stopped 23 of 25 shots. Anderson Violette made 20 saves in the Saanich crease.
The Isles have three games over a busy week before they are off for the holidays, beginning on Tuesday night when they play host to the Cougars for their last home game of 2018. They visit the Peninsula Panthers on Friday and Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Saturday. The rest after that will be beneficial.
“I think we’ll be healthy after Christmas for the first time this year,” Spotts said. “Overall, we’ve gelled as a team, but we’ve gotten away from what has made us successful. We’ll try to end on a positive note and carry the momentum with us after the Christmas break and into the new year.”