Panthers trade for Peninsula Minor Hockey product

Peninsula Minor Hockey product Garnett Roberts was acquired by the Panthers Junior B squad on Dec. 14 for forward Nathan Looysen.

New Panther Garnett Roberts takes a knee during practice recently.

On paper, trading your top point-getter for almost anyone else might not look all that wise.

However, when the new arrival tallies three points in four games, the move makes the broker of the deal seem like he knows something no one else does.

Peninsula Minor Hockey product Garnett Roberts was acquired by the Panthers Junior B squad on Dec. 14 for forward Nathan Looysen.

Looysen had been the Panthers’ top scorer this season, racking up 24 points.

Roberts, in the meantime, had seen limited playing time with the Victoria Cougars and as a rookie this season, tallied 11 points with the Victoria team.

Moved into the Panthers’ top line right away, Roberts scored twice in his first game with the team and has scored three points over the last four games. Looysen, in the meantime, has scored only one goal for Victoria in the same time period.

Panthers’ coach and operations director Pete Zubersky says Looysen had asked for a trade, so he found a way to make it happen. Zubersky said Looysen was doing well with Peninsula, but wanted a chance to go further in the playoffs and try to make the jump into Junior A hockey.

Looysen was dealt to the south division-leading Cougars and Roberts returns to the Saanich Peninsula.

Making home games and practices is now a shorter commute for Roberts, who lives in the Ardmore subdivision in North Saanich. Having come up through Peninsula Minor Hockey, he said he knows most of the Panthers’ players — not to mention he’s played against them throughout the season. As well, Roberts was an associate player for the Panthers when he was 15 years old and played with them briefly at 16.

Roberts said he realizes he’s been traded to a team with a worse record than the Cougars, but there are some positives, including seeing a lot more ice time on the Panther’s first line.

“I know everyone on the team and now I’m only five minutes from home,” Roberts said after practice this week.

Roberts said that the Panthers had their struggles early in the season but have come on of late.

“This team is standing on good ground,” he said, noting that they have beaten every team in the league at least once.

“This team knows it can win.”

He added the bench is always positive and goalie Alex Olsen has been standing on his head to keep the team in most games.

Roberts said he’s happy with the changed role he has with the Panthers. In Victoria, he was relied upon for strong defence, but with the change, he gets to turn on his offensive capabilities and see increased ice time.

Zubersky added Roberts is a good fit with the rest of the team and has helped to maintain the overall positive attitude of the Panthers.

Their next home game is tonight (Fri., Jan. 9) at Panorama. Game time is 7:30 p.m.