The trade winds were howling early Friday morning and by the time the puck dropped at the Panorama Recreation Centre in a game which featured the Peninsula Panthers and the visiting Victoria Cougars, the local Cats had already swung a pair of deals.
Forward Garett Gilbertson and defenceman Zack Evans were both moved to points North of the Saanich Peninsula for cash.
And in a strange turn of events, the two played with their new squads – Gilbertson for the Oceanside Generals and Evans for the Nanaimo Buccaneers – and against each other in a game won by the Generals in overtime on Saturday night.
The Panthers were knocked off by the Cougars on Friday by a 7-3 count however went on the road on Saturday and were full value for a 2-1 win over the Kerry Park Islanders, who had been white hot going into the contest having won nine of their last 11 games.
Head coach Brad Tippett said a lot of discussion went into the trade deadline. “At that time all Junior teams to go from 45 open cards to 25. Even at 25 most teams want to maintain some flexibility before the Jan 10 trade deadline.”
“In our case we had 25 players who all demonstrated they could play in the league,” he explained. “This is first time we have had a surplus of players at all positions.”
“We have been very fortunate that we have had no major long term injuries,” he added. “The issue of trying to fit 25 players into 20 lineup spots was stressful on everyone.”
As a 20 year old, Zack Evans wanted a chance to play a bigger and more offensive role and Nanaimo had lost a top right handed defenceman, which fit with Evans’ skillset.
Brendan McTavish – moved to Saanich a couple of weeks ago – was in the same boat where he was battling with a couple of veterans for the offensive quarterback type defenceman.
To compound this, Hunter Jensen has taken a major step forward and 18-year-old Stephan Grunert was granted more ice time. Grunert brings a unique skillset with his ability to deliver momentum changing, messaged sending body checks.
“We have about 6 forwards who have the same skill set,” Tippett went on. “Adding veteran Matthew Sparrow forced us to make room. We know he will fit in to the Oceanside lineup. We held extensive discussions with a number of teams right up until the deadline. While it may sound exciting it is young men’s futures we are dealing with. Making the right decisions for everyone is paramount.”
Zubersky noted there are still two open cards to be used in a trade before Jan. 10.
In the meantime, Tippett and his troops will welcome in Evans and the Nanaimo Buccaneers this Friday night at 7:30 pm at Panorama Rec Centre.