Kerry Park Islanders goaltender Dryden DeMelo makes one of his 26 saves in a overtime win over the Victoria Cougars at Kerry Park Arena on Jan. 1, 2022. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Kerry Park Islanders goaltender Dryden DeMelo makes one of his 26 saves in a overtime win over the Victoria Cougars at Kerry Park Arena on Jan. 1, 2022. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Kerry Park Islanders ring in the New Year with win over Cougars

Isles end losing streak with dramatic victory over South End leaders

The Kerry Park Islanders went into the Christmas break with four straight losses, including one in a shootout, then added two more in late December after the holiday break ended.

But they started 2022 on a positive note with an overtime win over the top team in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s South Division on New Year’s Day.

Mateo Sjoberg scored for the third straight game to give the Isles a 4-3 win over the Victoria Cougars at Kerry Park Arena on Jan. 1. After falling behind 3-1 in the second period, the Isles chipped away at the Cougars’ lead to force overtime, when Sjoberg needed just 51 seconds to score the decisive marker. Matt Baird and Kirk Whittaker each had a goal and an assist, and Ty Nakatsu also scored for the Isles, who had just 15 skaters available for the contest. Dryden DeMelo made 26 saves as the Isles outshot the Cougars 37-29.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, the Isles lost both ends of a home-and-home series with the Peninsula Panthers, falling 6-3 at Panorama and 7-1 back at Kerry Park.

Sjoberg and Tobin Bergman scored in the first game and Carson Strom potted his first VIJHL goal, with brother Jack picking up one of the assists. DeMelo made 42 stops as the Isles were outshot 48-16.

Sjoberg’s goal on Thursday came in the third period, with the Isles already trailing 6-0. Eric Young made 32 saves as the Isles were outshot 39-19.

Kerry Park sits fourth in the South, still holding on to a playoff spot as one of two wildcard teams, but it’s a tight race involving the expansion Lake Cowichan Kraken and Port Alberni Bombers, while the Saanich Predators aren’t out of the picture.

The Isles are scheduled to visit the Cougars this Thursday and play host to the Westshore Wolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

VIJHL