The Kerry Park Islanders wrapped up 2018 in a big way with their 9-4 win over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Saturday.
Evan Easton and Isaac Leik broke out of goal-scoring slumps by potting four and two, respectively, and the Kerry Park powerplay went 4-for-7 as the Isles dominated their last game of the calendar year.
Easton and Leik both finished the night with five points, and Easton took over the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League scoring race. Easton hadn’t found the back of the net since Nov. 18, a span of eight games, and Leik hadn’t bulged the twine in four contests since Nov. 24.
“That was definitely good,” Kerry Park head coach Aaron Spotts said. “We need those guys to score goals for us.”
Riley Windsor added two goals and two assists, and Logan Furkalo had a powerplay goal and one helper. Brandon McClintick had three assists, bringing his league-leading total to 30. Dawson Blanchette also had a trio of helpers, and Daniel Paseschnikoff and Nolan Renke had two each, and goalie Rett Rook made 29 saves for the victory.
It was a better showing for the Isles than they got the night before in a 4-2 loss to the Peninsula Panthers.
“We got off to a pretty slow start,” Spotts admitted. “In the first period, it took some time to get going. In the second, we got better, but we gave up a couple of goals in less than a minute. In the third, we were better in our end, putting on a lot of defensive pressure, but we couldn’t find a way to tie it.”
The Panthers opened the scoring with just under a minute to go in the first. The teams again waited until late in the second to do any more scoring: Alaskan Alex Engan tied the score for the Isles at 17:30 of the middle frame, but the Panthers still managed to add two more in a 16-second span before the second intermission. Windsor got the Isles back within one early in the third, but they couldn’t get any closer before the Panthers added an empty-netter. Charles-Olivier Lepage made 32 saves in the loss, one more than Peninsula’s winning goalie, Chris Akerman.
The Isles played their final home game of 2018 last Tuesday, beating the Victoria Cougars 4-2 at Kerry Park Arena.
“It was a good, solid effort,” Spotts said. “It wasn’t necessarily spectacular, but we found a way to win, and that’s always a good thing.”
The Cougars scored first, but Romaeo D’Intino tied the score in the last minute of the first period. The Cougars went up 2-1 on a successful penalty shot in the second, but Logan Furkalo tied the score with a shorthanded goal in the last minute of the period. Matt Baird gave the Isles their first lead of the game midway through the third, and McClintick dumped in an empty-netter, once again in the final minute of the period. Rook finished with 34 saves, while Cam Stevenson made 18 stops in the Victoria net.
With 17 wins, 12 losses, one overtime loss and one overtime win, the Isles go into the break second in the South Division and with the third-best point total in the league. Kerry Park players are also making noise in the scoring race. Easton sits first with 43 points (19 goals and 24 assists), two more than Victoria’s Booker Chacalias, while Leik is third with 38 (17 goals and 21 assists), and McClintick is fourth with 36, including his league-best 30 assists. Tanner Tiel remains in the top 10 with 34 points (15 goals and 19 assists) despite missing the last five games due to injury.
The Isles are off until the new year, returning to action on Jan. 4 with another road game against Peninsula, followed the next night by a home game against the Campbell River Storm at 7:30 p.m. The Isles will head into the final stretch of the regular season hoping to secure home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
“Coming back from the break, we should be 100 per cent healthy for the first time this year,” Spotts said. “The last bit of the season always seems to go fast, and then it’s into the playoffs. The boys will be excited to get back at it.”