Players fighting for limited spots on Panthers’ roster

Peninsula Panthers Junior Hockey spring camp at Pearkes Arena in Saanich April 17 to 19.

There are approximately 16 returning players from the 2014/15 Peninsula Panthers’ roster.

There are four strong Peninsula Minor Hockey Association prospects among the hopefuls at next week’s Peninsula Panthers camp.

The Junior B hockey team will see between 40 and 60 players from the Island and elsewhere at their spring training camp, set for April 17 to 19 at Pearkes Arena in Saanich. Panthers’ Governor of Hockey Operations Pete Zubersky says  they moved out of their home rink at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich because the ice has been removed to facilitate an ice plant replacement project.

Over the three-day camp, Zubersky said coaching staff will look at players in game situations. Between 14 and 16 players from last season’s roster are back, Zubersky continued, and will be thrown into the mix to test the mettle of the newcomers.

Among those are three Peninsula products Zubersky said he has his eye on.

Right winger Ty Hermsen comes to the camp out of midget-level hockey. Zubersky said he played as a Panthers’ affiliate last season and scored a couple goals when called up.

“He’s not very tall but he’s solid, gritty,” Zubersky said.

Defenseman Braeden Hanson is also looking to crack the roster this year.

“He really surprised us and he has a good chance, too.”

Matt McLeod, another PMHA midget-level player, is also going to be at the camp and will seriously be considered.

In the net, Zubersky said Alex Olsen is his number one guy, even though Olsen plans to try out at the Junior A level in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“I’m pulling for the kid, but I’m anticipating he’ll be back.”

The Panthers have already signed one newcomer, 16-year-old Marty Westhaver out of Saanich.

“He’s a kid that has a really big upside,” Zubersky said, noting Westhaver is listed by the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.

Zubersky said their experienced core group and quality newcomers  will bring good things next season.