Kerry Park Islanders defenceman Taylor Webb emerges with the puck from a scrum along the boards during Saturday's home game against the Saanich Predators. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Optimized results keep Kerry Park Islanders rolling

Several forwards hitting or nearing career highs just six games into season

Led by 20-year-old forward Louis Ferraro, the Kerry Park Islanders are rolling along steadily in the early days of the 2020-21 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, with several players already surpassing their offensive numbers from last season.

Ferraro totalled five goals and two assists in three games last week, and now has 11 points through a half-dozen games, tied for second in the league and nearly eclipsing the 14 points he posted in 22 games with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings last year.

It’s part of a trend for the Isles, who, instead of acquiring big offensive contributors from other teams, have optimized the value they get out of the players they have.

Ferraro was brought in through an off-season trade, but several other Islanders whose point totals have surged are holdovers from last year. Through the first six games, Reid Fitzpatrick (sixth in league scoring) has 10 points after posting 12 in 48 games last year, Dawson Elzinga (12th) has eight points compared to 22 in 46 games last year, and Kirk Whittaker (14th) has eight points after putting up nine in 33 VIJHL games last year. And although he hasn’t cracked the league’s top 20 scorers yet, Colten Thompson has six points already, one more than the five he compiled in 41 appearances in 2019-20.

“These aren’t guys who are used to getting these kind of points,” Kerry Pary head coach Brandon Cox said. “In six games, they are pretty close to surpassing last year’s totals. It wasn’t like we went out and got a bunch of big goal-scorers.”

Cox credits the players’ work with assistant Paul Pipke for the scoring surge.

“The guys are buying into the system,” he said. “They’ve been given a bigger role, and they’ve taken it and run with it.”

The Isles continued their early-season trend of winning at home and losing on the road last week as they fell to the Westshore Wolves by a 6-2 score at the Q Centre last Wednesday, then split a home-and-home series with the Saanich Predators on the weekend.

Ferraro scored both goals against Westshore, Whittaker had two assists, and Fitzpatrick and Elzinga chipped in with one helper apiece. Bailey Monteith allowed six goals on 35 shots, while Westshore’s Jacob Haydar stopped 20 of 22 shots.

Ferraro again factored into both goals on Friday, scoring one and setting up the other by John Ross, while Fitzpatrick and Whittaker also had single assists. Kai Koerner allowed four goals on 31 shots, and Andrew Palm made 38 stops in the Saanich net.

On Saturday, Ferraro added two more goals and one assist, Whittaker and Elzinga each had a goal and an assist, Cole Amado scored the other goal, and Thompson and Taylor Webb had one helper apiece. Monteith set a season high of 40 saves on 42 shots, while Saanich’s Robert Michetti allowed four goals on 43 shots.

The weekend also featured the VIJHL debut of defenceman Noah Goertzen, who played last season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Goerzten, who put up nine points in 51 games between the Winkler Flyers and Neepawa Natives last year, was paired up with captain Matt Baird and provided a steadying presence for the Isles.

“He really controls the play when he is on the ice,” Cox commented.

The Isles have just one game this weekend as they play host to Westshore on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. They visit the Wolves again next Wednesday at 7 p.m. All games can be watched on HockeyTV.

The Wolves, who are coached by former Kerry Park bench boss Aaron Spotts, recently picked up Isaac Leik, who was a point-a-game player for the Isles in 2018-19 before playing junior A in Saskatchewan. Leik returned to Vancouver Island midway through 2018-19 and played the balance of the season with the Oceanside Generals, and along with Noah Taron, gives the Wolves two Mill Bay products with significant junior A experience who can put up points in junior B.

“We need to focus on limiting their opportunities and hopefully we’ll get another good performance out of Monteith, and take it from there,” Cox said.

VIJHL

 

John Ross slaps the puck out of the Kerry Park Islanders’ end during Saturday’s home game against the Saanich Predators. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

John Ross slaps the puck out of the Kerry Park Islanders’ end during Saturday’s home game against the Saanich Predators. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)