The Peninsula Panthers’ regular season is whittling down and Friday night’s game against the Campbell River Storm might in fact be the single most important game of the campaign, said the team’s owner, Pete Zubersky.
“The game on Friday may in fact decide who will finish in second overall in the VIJHL standings,” said Zubersky.
“If both teams were to get past their opponents in the first round, they will most likely be dance partners for round two.”
Due to the distance, Zubersky added, home ice would prove to be a big advantage for the Panthers.
The Panthers picked up an important three points this past weekend in games against Victoria and Kerry Park. Their home-ice winning streak now tallies at 14 games.
The last time the team was defeated at home was Oct. 25 and the current streak has put the team high in the VIJHL standings, said Zubersky.
On Thursday, the Panthers held an 8-5 lead against the Victoria Cougars midway through the third period at the Archie Browning Arena, however a late period barrage by the Cougars saw the lead disintegrate as they pushed the Panthers to overtime.
Only 27 seconds into the extra frame, the Cougars scored and sent the Panthers back to the Peninsula on the wrong side of a 9-8 score.
At home last Friday, the Panthers beat out the Kerry Park Islanders 3-0 in a game which saw Panthers’ goaltender Joey Karrer pick up the first shutout of his junior hockey career.
The 18-year-old stopped all 17 shots directed his way and was named the game’s first star.
The Panthers take to the road tomorrow (Thursday) heading to Nanaimo to take on the Buccaneers and are back Friday at Panorama Recreation Centre to host the Storm at 7:30 p.m.