Game five of the first round of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs last week saw the Peninsula Panthers bounced to the sidelines by the Victoria Cougars.
The Panthers were dropped out of the playoffs with a 6-1 loss last Thursday evening in Esquimalt, ending the best-of-seven series 4 games to 1.
The scoring chances were almost equal and the final shots were 29-26 in favor of the Cougars, but it was the experience of the cross-town rivals that spelled the end for the Peninsula team.
The Panthers, a young team that was almost completely rebuilt after the 2011/2012 season, had a strong year and now have the building blocks in place as they move forward, said Manager of Hockey Operations, Pete Zubersky.
The Victoria Cougars went almost undefeated in regular season play and the loss to the older, stronger team didn’t come as a huge surprise, he noted.
“They were the better team,” he said of the Cougars after Thursday evening’s final game.
“We had 19 rookies and we knew it was going to be a tough task to beat the Cougars’ speed and experience.
Our kids played hard throughout the series and now almost the entire roster has changed since we took over a year ago. We have some work to do this off-season, however I believe we should compete near the top of the league next season.”
Panther Connor Logan captured the Top Playoff Performer award for the team after garnering five points in five games. Logan is expected back next season as is the majority of the roster, said Zubersky.
Two 20-year-old players who have completed their Junior careers with the end of the 2012/2013 season are Logan Gibson and Brett Clarke.
The Panthers host a spring prospects camp April 19 to 21 at Panorama. For more information on the camp or the team visit www.ppanthers.bc.ca.