The Peninsula Panthers are preparing to host their crosstown foes, the Westshore Wolves, this Friday.
The regular season of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is now in the home stretch and with the Panthers sitting solidly in second place in the southern division, the Wolves are the only club in a position to catch them.
The team’s owner, Pete Zubersky estimates the two rivals may meet in the first round of the playoffs if the Panthers continue with their current 12-game home winning streak.
“Although beating the Wolves on Friday night wouldn’t clinch the second spot and home-ice advantage when we tangle in playoffs, I feel comfortable that they won’t catch us,” said Zubersky.
“We’re going for lucky number 13 at home win on Friday and putting those two points in the bank would be huge.”
The Panthers bounced the visiting Saanich Braves 10-2 last Friday night, dominating the game from start to finish.
Tate Coughlin led the Panthers with three goals and two assists and defenceman Matt Sheeran chipped in with a goal and three assists.
A myriad of other Panthers hit the scoresheet in the blowout.
“The kids are really starting to hit their stride now,” said Zubersky, adding that the big, strong team is performing the best it has since his involvement with the club began in 1999.
“We have to work on several things and we have to bring a physical element to every game down the stretch and into the playoffs. We’re 100 per cent healthy now so if kids are not playing physically, they’ll make it easy on the coaching staff to make them a healthy scratch. In a seven-game series I believe we’ll be tough to beat if we’re making our opponent pay when they touch the puck.”
The Panthers take on the Westshore Wolves this Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Panorama Recreation Centre.