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Illness plagues Peninsula Panthers’ lineup

Bad bounce has Panthers looking to get back on a winning streak
Mason Kelly blocks a shot Friday as the Peninsula Panthers face off against the Lake Cowichan Kraken. (Courtesy Christian J. Stewart Photography)

Despite a number of injured players ready to hit the ice again, the Peninsula Panthers continue to battle lineup challenges.

“Just when it appears as though we are getting close to having a full lineup with guys filtering back into the lineup from an array of injuries, we are snake bitten with sickness going through the club,” said head coach and general manager Pete Zubersky. “We played Friday night with seven guys out of the lineup and it still took a bad bounce to beat us.”

In Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action, the Panthers dropped Friday’s contest 5-3 to the Lake Cowichan Kraken.

“With six minutes left in the game against Lake Cowichan, we were tied at 3-3 but a crazy bounce off the glass behind the net saw the puck bounce in front. Our goaltender Mason Kelly was behind the net to stop the puck for our defenceman but bingo, it was in the back of our net instead of behind it,” Zubersky explained.

Despite illness going through the organization, he predicts the team will be back to its full lineup within the next seven to 10 days.

“On the flip side, guys that might not have played big minutes have seen each of their roles expand and this will pay dividends when playoffs get going in two weeks. I think the line of Malcolm Fletcher, Brad Bates and Cam Sneek have really come into their own and now seem to understand their role and what is expected of them.”

The Panthers hit the road Wednesday, facing off against the Westshore Wolves at The Q Centre in Colwood at 7 p.m. They’re back on home ice Friday, hosting the Saanich Predators with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at the Panorama Recreation Centre.

Taking advantage of the holiday, the team will also host the Campbell River Storm on Monday (Feb. 20) with a 2 p.m. start. Monday’s game will also be a Peninsula Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) and fan appreciation game so a full house is expected. Twenty-three lucky PMHA winners will receive a special edition Panthers jersey after the game while other giveaways will take place throughout the game. PMHA players (wearing jerseys), coaches, managers, and referees will be admitted to the game at no charge.

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