After some promising early results under new head coach James Gaertner, a couple of lopsided losses set the Kerry Park Islanders back on the weekend.
The Isles were thumped 10-1 by the South Division-leading Peninsula Panthers on the road on Friday night, then beaten 7-2 by the Campbell River Storm at home on Saturday night.
“It was an interesting week,” Islanders owner Carl Ollech admitted.
Parker Bergstrom needed just 13 seconds to open the scoring for the Islanders on Friday, but the Panthers came back with 10 straight unanswered goals: five in the first, three in the second and two in the third. The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s three leading scorers combined for 17 points in the game as Tanner Wort had three goals and four assists, Josh Lingard had three goals and three assists, and Riley Braun scored once and added three helpers. The Isles were outshot 55-21 as Spencer Deakin and Nick Haisell split goaltending duties.
The Isles will visit the Panthers again this coming Friday, and Ollech vowed that the result will be different.
“When we play again Friday, we’re gonna be ready for them,” he said. “We’ve got them figured out. That’s what practice is going to be about this week: how to beat Peninsula.”
On Saturday, the Storm scored the first two goals, but Bergstrom replied late in the first, and the Isles went into the first intermission down by one. Campbell River added two more early in the second and one early in the third before Cory Mater capitalized on a Kerry Park powerplay, and then the Storm added two more. The Isles were outshot 60-27 in the game, but Deakin made 53 saves.
A big crowd helped energize the Kerry Park players, and Ollech was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was very exciting,” he said. “The kids worked really hard.”
The Isles were playing without three key forwards on the weekend as Alex Villa, Hikaru Kinowaki and Logan Furkalo sat out with injuries.
“Campbell River had the same problems a week ago,” Ollech commented. “They were missing a whole top line. It happens this time of year.”
Kerry Park has brought in reinforcements, adding big forward Kirk Whittaker, who comes from Shawnigan Lake but had been playing with Campbell River Storm, recording one goal and two assists in 15 games, and signing Evan Loucks a forward from Victoria who had one assist in five games as an AP with Kerry Park.
Ollech is optimistic about what his new head coach is doing with the players on an individual basis.
“James is breaking down everybody’s game and reworking the kids,” he said. “This is about the long haul, not the short haul.”
With six wins, 20 regulation losses and two overtime losses, the Isles are still fifth in the South Division, seven points back of the Saanich Braves, but they remain in playoff position, nine points up on the North Division’s Comox Valley Glacier Kings. They visit the Panthers again this Friday, then host the Westshore Wolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.