The regular season in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has just reached the quarter way mark and the Peninsula Panthers are still looking for a win.
“Although the team has struggled significantly over the past six weeks, there appears to be a lot of optimism surrounding the club and we think that things are looking up,” said team owner and general manager, Pete Zubersky, adding that the team’s intensity seems to have picked up after a number of changes were made to the roster in the last two weeks.
The team started the year with 14 rookies in their lineup.
“Anyone who has been involved in the game understood that there would be growing pains and we have witnessed that firsthand,” said Zubersky.
The team has been blown out on two or three occasions, however, Zubersky continued, for the most part the games have been close.
Injuries to team veterans have also played a key part in the early going and at one point, five key players were forced to the sidelines due to injury. Several are still on the shelf, Zubersky said, but they are slowly returning back to the ice.
The Panthers have made a series of major roster moves in the last two weeks, shipping out forwards Jordan Law and Connor Logan to bring in defencemen Austin Singhera and Brett Carpendale as well as forward Josh Poland.
The most significant change, however, was Panthers Head Coach Grant Sjerven stepping down. Currently, assistant coach Rob Mortin remains on the bench with the club.
“Grant is a fine man and it’s too bad that this situation did not play out differently,” said Zubersky.
“I know that he was really taking each loss hard and a couple times it looked like the team had lost the energy they needed. It’s a tough game and I’m sure Grant will be back in it soon, I know he would like to coach again at some point.”
The Panthers take on the league-leading Campbell River Storm on Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre at 7:30 p.m.