Goalie Nicholas Haisell stood out for the Kerry Park Islanders in their season-opening loss to the Peninsula Panthers on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Isles show promise in rough season opener

‘These guys are gonna blossom,’ says owner

The Kerry Park Islanders season opener on Saturday night didn’t go the way the team would have liked, but it’s just the first step in a long year.

“The result wasn’t what we were hoping for,” Isles owner Carl Ollech said of the 8-1 loss to the Peninsula Panthers at Kerry Park Arena. “But we saw a lot of good things the kids were doing.

“It’s a young team. It’s a work in progress. We’re really happy with all the kids.”

Kerry Park goalie Nicholas Haisell was peppered with 52 shots as he played the entire 60 minutes, but responded in outstanding fashion with 44 stops.

“Our goalie stood on his head,” Ollech said. “He was our MVP of the game. He did a phenomenal job in net. He’s awesome; I love the kid.”

The Isles, meanwhile, were credited with 14 shots on Comox’s Connor McKillop.

“It would have been good if we had a few more shots on net,” Ollech admitted.

The Panthers led 3-0 after the first period and 6-0 after the second, and it was 7-0 before Rylan Campbell got the Isles on the board at 14:38 of the third, assisted by Arsh Dhillon and Tanner Banks. The Panthers would add one more before the final buzzer.

There are just a handful of returnees from last year’s squad, including team captain Logan Furkalo, who had 16 goals and eight assists in 42 games last season. Ollech and the rest of the staff, which currently includes head coach Mitch Heslop and assistant James Gaertner, are excited to watch this year’s team gel.

“We have a lot of talent,” Ollech said. “It’s a great bunch of guys on and off the ice. It’s a great crew. Give them five or six games under their belts and they’ll be a different team. These guys are gonna blossom. I can see it happening.”

The Isles’ next game is on the road against the Nanaimo Buccaneers this Thursday, and Ollech is looking forward to see how his team stacks up.

“We’re hoping to get a win out of the Bucs,” he said. “They lost a lot of top players, so they’ll have some growing pains, just like us.”

The Isles will trot out their new home jerseys on Saturday when they host the Saanich Braves at 7:30 p.m.

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