The Kerry Park Islanders got the last month of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season off to a fantastic start on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the North Division-leading Campbell River Storm.
“The kids fought hard,” Islanders owner Carl Ollech declared. “They fought well. Our goalie played extremely well. They were firing on all cylinders. I was proud of them. They outworked everybody.”
The Isles mixed up their forward lines and defence pairings in the game, and it paid off as they got goals from three different lines.
“You change it up and see if it works,” Ollech said. “You have to do that in the playoffs because of injuries and suspensions. You’ve got to learn to play with other teammates too. It worked very well.”
Ollech was thrilled with the way the Isles played with heart and took charge of the game.
“We had some good mojo going,” he said. “That’s the key now: to keep that momentum going.”
The game was nearly called off because of flooding in the Cowichan Valley, when roads between Duncan and Chemainus were closed. As soon as the roads opened late Saturday morning, the Isles made sure the Storm were coming to Kerry Park.
Cory Mater opened the scoring with a powerplay goal at 2:34 of the first, and Alex Villa made it 2-0 seven seconds later. The Storm got on the board with a powerplay goal of their own, but Kirk Whittaker — who started the season with Campbell River — restored the two-goal advantage with just over five minutes left in the first. Whittaker’s goal stood up as the winner after the Storm scored one more in the third. Spencer Deakin was busy in the Kerry Park net, making 52 saves as the Isles were outshot 54-25.
The night before, the Isles were handed a 6-0 defeat by the Peninsula Panthers in North Saanich.
“They played well even on Friday,” Ollech commented. “They just couldn’t put it in the net.”
The Panthers potted the game-winner just 32 seconds in as Connor McKillop posted a 20-save shutout. Deakin saved 44 of 50 shots on his net. The league’s top-scoring line of Tanner Wort (1G, 1A), Riley Braun (3A) and Josh Lingard (2G) combined for seven points for Peninsula.
Ollech remains pleased with his team’s progress of late.
“The team’s doing great,” he said. “It’s a bit of a hodgepodge, but for being a hodgepodge, we’re doing quite well.”
The Isles have five regular-season games left, including two at home this weekend. They host the Panthers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the Westshore Wolves on Sunday at 3 p.m.