Panthers fall to Braves

Team takes tough loss against Saanich after Christmas break

Peninsula Panther Cole Golka fends off Saanich Braves defenceman Garrett Kemmler during game action last Friday night.

After a week off over Christmas break, the Peninsula Panthers took a tough 4-0 loss against the Saanich Braves last week.

“We couldn’t complete one pass all night long,” said Panthers’ Head Coach Brian Passmore of Friday night’s game at Panorama Recreation Centre.

The Braves held period leads of 2-0, 3-0 and finally 4-0 in a game that saw the Panthers unable to land a single goal. The shutout game came on the heels of a 5-3 win the previous week at Pearkes Arena against the same team.

Passmore said it was obvious that both teams were not in the same frame of mind going into Friday’s game.

“We beat them last Friday and played hard as a group but tonight our guys were blowing snow all over the ice instead of finishing their checks. We had some guys that sat tonight because they didn’t play hard and they didn’t play the way I want them to play.”

On Saturday, the Panthers headed up to Kerry Park to face a last-place Islanders squad, but one that has recently made a lot of changes including the addition of former New York Ranger Brad Purinton behind the bench.

The Panthers brought a different attitude to the ice Saturday and it was evident early on, when at 7:54 of the first frame when Nathan Looysen hit it hard on the power play.

With just under three minutes having been played in the second period, the Panthers power play struck again when Zack Smith whipped a shot past Islanders netminder Jordan Hospes to add to the lead. Panther Daniel Welch also added his own goal only four minutes later.

Two defensive miscues on the same power play saw the Islanders try and battle back with two short-handed goals but Cole Golka gave the Panthers some insurance with another puck in Kerry Park’s net. The Panthers took the game 7-3.

With the win against the Islanders the Panthers have moved back into a third place tie with the Westshore Wolves in the South Division of the VIJHL. The team is now prepping to host the Islanders again next Friday in an important game.

“We’re in a real battle with the Wolves for a playoff position,” explained Pete Zubersky, the head of hockey operations.

“The Victoria Cougars look like they have first place wrapped up and the Braves seem to have a lock on second. Kerry Park is too far back now to catch up to the rest of the South so the only thing that has to be decided in these last 14 games is who will finish in third and fourth.”

Zubersky noted that the team will go head to head with Westshore twice before the end of regular season so he’s looking to team to step it up.

“Every single game from here on in will be a dogfight,” he said. “We need every single point we can get and our focus almost has to have a playoff mentality to it.”

The Panthers hit the ice this Friday night against the Islanders at the Panorama Recreation Centre. The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m.