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Young Isles still finding footing in competitive VIJHL

Kerry Park sits fifth in the South Division

Youth makes for big lessons and a steep learning curve but for the Kerry Park Islanders junior B team, progress has been steady, despite what it looks like in the league standings.

“We’ve got a young group so we’re learning and learning,” said general manager Brandon Cox of his team.

“We’ve got 16-plus first-year players to junior hockey and we’re going to have some growing pains, but I think our growth is going to be bigger than some of the other teams so I’m excited to see that for sure.”

After a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the visiting Victoria Cougars on Oct. 18, the young Kerry Park Islanders looked to bounce back during their road game two nights later in Nanaimo against the Buccaneers. Their mental toughness served them well, as they pulled through with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory in a strong team performance.

Already down by two, midway through the first, Mason Croucher scored his first of the season from Carson Brown and Aleko Sdrakas.

Brown then scored his eighth of the year to wrap up the first period tied at two goals apiece.

Just like in the opening frame, The Buccaneers scored twice before the Islanders could add to their tally, giving them a 4-2 lead. Their lead was anything but comfortable, however, as the Islanders went to work on their comeback.

Sdrakas scored his team-leading 10th of the year to bring it to 3-2 at the end of the second period.

“Sdrakas is almost at a goal a game and Carson Brown is doing pretty good, working hard,” said Cox.

It was all Kerry Park in the third period as Colby Robinson scored from Eric Stinson to tie it up and then Lukas Tokic potted the game winner from Ethan Taylor and Brown.

“Lukas has been a real hard penalty killer, a hard hitter, a good young hockey player, too,” Cox added. “Eric Stinson has been putting up the points and makes the big open ice hits as well.”

Tanner Johnson got the win in goal for the Isles, saving 30 of 34 shots on goal.

With memories of their Oct. 20 victory in mind, the Islanders set out to play the Victoria Cougars in Victoria on Oct. 23 and had a different outcome than their Oct. 18 blowout in mind.

It wasn’t meant to be, however, despite the game being close for the duration.

Aaron Marson got the Isles on the board three minutes into the game with an assist from Taylor. Nobody scored in the second period but Sdrakas got his 11th early in the third, just minutes before Croucher scored (from Stinson and Taylor) to give Kerry Park a 3-2 lead.

The Cougars tied it up at 11:30 of the third and didn’t look back, scoring on the power play with one minute left in the game to thwart Kerry Park’s plans for a win. Eric Young stopped 26 of 30 shots for the Islanders in the loss.

The Islanders round out their October schedule with a visit to the Peninsula Panthers on Oct. 28 and a home game the following night against the Port Alberni Bombers. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.