Injuries loom early for Peninsula Panthers

Injuries plagued the Peninsula Panthers in their two opening regular season games last weekend.

Coach Brad Tippett watches his young and quickly improving troops on Saturday evening in Saanich.

NORTH SAANICH — Injuries plagued the Peninsula Panthers in their two opening regular season games last weekend.

The local hockey club lost promising 17-year-old rookie Holden Cochrane with a leg injury in the second period. Forward Trevor Owens was hit awkwardly later on and was taken to hospital with an ankle injury. Owens is expected to be out two to four weeks.

Panther’s goaltender Shawn Parkinson was hit in the crease during the team’s second game of the season in Saanich against the Braves. The club says he popped out his shoulder in the fray. He was replaced in net by 17-year-old Liam Tutte.

“Injuries are part of the game — but I wish they didn’t come in an avalanche like our group was hit with,” said new head coach Brad Tippett. “We’ll see what we get from the medical staff … Here is an opportunity for other guys to step into important roles.”

The Panthers dropped both of their season-opening matches against the Braves; 5-2 on Fri., Sept. 2 and 3-2 in overtime on the road Saturday.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more and love our progress,” Tippett said. “We are learning more each time out.”

Tippett himself is a new addition this season, having returned behind the bench after a significant break from coaching following a stint with the Regina Pats from 1989 to 1993.

The overtime game saw the Braves’ Dale McCabe open the scoring in the first period on the power play. Eighteen seconds later, Panthers veteran Kai Turner tipped in a Zach Evans wrist shot from the point to beat a surprised Brice Schiebel. Josh Poland picked up a helper on the play.

Owens scored what was easily the goal of the game midway through the second period when he took a pass from Michael Sproule, split the visitors’ defence and went in alone on Schiebel. The slick forward faked a wrist shot before going to the backhand and lifting the disk deftly to the top of the cage.  It would prove to be the only goal of the period and left the Panthers with a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

It looked like it might remain that way. Both Parkinson and Schiebel made significant saves going down the stretch however with Tutte in the game and with Schiebel on the bench for the extra attacker, Nick Guerra scored for the home squad at the 18:31 mark after a scramble in front to send the game into an extra frame.  Braves veteran Scott Henderson scored the winner only 36 seconds into OT.

The Panthers’ next action will be Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre when they host the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings.  The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.