The Kerry Park Islanders swept their three games last week and ran their winning streak in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League to four, capping it off with an 8-3 victory over the Saanich Braves at home on Saturday night.
“Overall, we had good results,” Kerry Park head coach Aaron Spotts said. “Overall, we were real happy with the week.”
It began with a 3-2 win over the Westshore Wolves at the Q Centre last Wednesday. The Isles scored two powerplay goals in three chances, and killed off five shorthanded situations, including a couple of big ones in the third period.
“I thought we were pretty good,” Spotts said. “Special teams were key. Five-on-five, we got off to a bit of a slow start, but once we got our legs under us, we started to take over.”
Former Islander Jarrett Malloch opened the scoring just 34 seconds after the opening faceoff, but the Isles settled down and got goals from Evan Easton and Isaac Leik, the latter on the powerplay, to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Tanner Tiel scored another powerplay goal in the second, and the Wolves made it a one-goal game midway through the third.
Tiel and Brandon McClintick both finished with three points on the night, and Easton had two. The Isles were outshot 36-22 on the night, but Kerry Park goalie Rett Rook made 34 stops to secure the win.
Two nights later, the Isles headed north to beat the Oceanside Generals 4-2 in Parksville.
“They’re definitely a team playing a lot better than their record,” Spotts said of the Generals, who sit fourth in the North Division.
The Isles set the tone early, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, courtesy of Riley Windsor’s second goal of the season.
“We came out and played one of our best periods of the year,” Spotts commented. “We definitely carried the first period of play. We had lots of chances to score.”
The Generals pushed back in the second. Evan Easton made it 2-0 for Kerry Park at 1:04 of the middle frame, but the Generals got that one back 42 seconds later. Windsor restored the two-goal margin just past the five-minute mark. Oceanside scored again in the third, and Ishmael Carrington added one more for the Isles in the last minute of play.
Alex Engan recorded a pair of assists in the game. Kerry Park outshot Oceanside 42-24, and Charles-Olivier Lepage made 22 saves for the win.
The Braves, who won 12 of their first 13 games this season, had lost back-to-back contests for the first time going into Saturday, and were hungry to get back in the win column.
“They came ready to play,” Spotts said. “We’ve had some tight games with them.”
After losing 7-1 to the Braves on opening night, the Isles lost by one goal in their next two games with Saanich before blowing things open on Saturday.
“They’re one of the top teams in this league, and we were able to show we can compete with them,” Spotts said.
The Isles led 2-1 after one period and 5-3 after two. Tiel scored a shorthanded goal and added three helpers, while Engan and Easton had two goals and one assist apiece. Carrington and Romaeo D’Intino each had a goal and an assist, and Logan Furkalo also scored. Windsor contributed three assists and Nolan Renke had two. Saanich outshot Kerry Park 34-32, but Rook made 31 saves.
Tiel earned VIJHL Player of the Week honours with eight points in three games, and has 16 points in the Isles’ last seven contests, giving him 20 on the season, which ties the career high he set last year. This is the seventh year in a row that Spotts has coached the 20-year-old Tiel, and the coach is pleased to see him hitting new highs.
“He plays a 200-foot game,” Spotts said. “He can be utilized in all situations. He’s stepped up his play of late. In practice he’s working hard. He’s played with drive and determination. It’s nice to see him rewarded for his hard work.”
Along with Rook and D’Intino, Tiel is one of three 20-year-olds providing leadership on the young team.
“Everybody has kind of followed suit,” Spotts commented. “It’s a really positive thing for our team. That’s what you want to see from the older players on a team.”
The Isles now sit third in the South Division with eight wins, eight losses, one overtime win and one overtime defeat. They have another challenging week coming up as they visit the Campbell River Storm, who sit first in the North, on Friday, then host the Braves again on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Storm lost in overtime to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings this past Saturday, the first win of the season for the Glacier Kings, and will be eager to turn things around.
“There are no easy games,” Spotts said. “If you don’t show up to play every night, you won’t be having much success.”