With wins in two of three home games over the past week, the Kerry Park Islanders are continuing to turn their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season around.
“It’s very promising,” Islanders owner Carl Ollech said. “The kids are playing well.”
The Isles defeated the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 3-1 last Tuesday and the Saanich Braves 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. In between, they lost 5-3 to the Victoria Cougars on Saturday afternoon.
“They played very well on Saturday, too,” Ollech pointed out. “There were three powerplay goals. If we’d kept it to zero powerplay goals, we would have won that one, too.”
On Tuesday, the Isles took a 1-0 lead over the winless Glacier Kings on Colten Thompson’s first period goal, then went up by two when Cory Mater scored 26 seconds into the third. The Kings managed to get within one, but the Isles held them off until blueliner Matt Baird was able to ice it with an empty-netter. Kerry Park outshot Comox 49-29, with Spencer Deakin making 28 saves for the win.
The Cougars scored three times in the first period on Saturday, including two of their three powerplay goals. Parker Bergstrom got the Isles on the board at 5:47, then set up Riley Windsor just 22 seconds later, and Alex Villa tied it up for Kerry Park 69 seconds into the third. The Cougars regained the lead just past the three-minute mark of the final frame, then added another powerplay marker later on. Victoria outshot Kerry Park 41-29, Deakin making 36 stops.
Cowichan Valley products were among the Cougars’ top performers, as Cam LeSergent opened the scoring just 41 seconds in, Evan Easton assisted on both first-period powerplay goals, and defenceman Nathan Goliath was named Victoria’s Star of the Game.
It took Hikaru Kinowaki just 13 seconds to open the scoring against Saanich on Sunday with his first career VIJHL goal. The Braves replied, then Dawson Elzinga restored the Isles’ lead with a powerplay goal, also his first in junior B. By the end of the period, however, the Braves held a 3-2 edge. Alex Villa evened things up late in the second, and Mater put Kerry Park up for good with another powerplay goal in the third. Rick Takeda recorded his first two assists for the Isles since being acquired from the Nanaimo Buccaneers earlier this month. The Isles were outshot 38-31, but Deakin stood tall with 35 stops.
The players have been working hard all year, and are being rewarded for their efforts, Ollech insisted.
“We told them you get out of it what you put in,” he said. “So if you’re not going to put in 100 per cent, then guess what. They’ve been playing extremely well.”
With four wins and 12 losses on the season, Kerry Park remains last in the South Division, but are now just one point back of Saanich, and well ahead of the Glacier Kings who sit last in the league with a single point.
The Isles visit the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday, then host the Wolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the league-leading Peninsula Panthers on Sunday at 3 p.m.