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Panthers lie down in last period against Braves

VIJHL match between Peninsula Panthers, Saanich Braves ends badly for the home team
Panthers' big and strong defenceman

It was an exciting game that in the end turned sour. It was a game of would-haves and could-haves, but when all was said and done, the story would have the visiting Saanich Braves downing the Peninsula Panthers 6-3 at the Panorama Recreation Centre last Friday evening, Jan. 20.

The home side had plenty of opportunities, out-shooting the Braves by a 33-26 count, but could not solve the visitors’ netminder Tanner McGaw who made save after save in capturing the win and the game’s second star. The club will have to solve the scoring prowess of the Braves’ Ty Jones who was named the game’s first star, if they happen to bump into the crosstown rivals come playoffs and have any plans of moving on. Jones figured in five of the Braves’ six goals, managing a hat trick and two helpers along the way.

The two clubs were tied at three going into the third frame thanks to markers from Joe Densmore and Trevor Yee in the first period and veteran Josh Bloomenthal in the second 20 minutes, but when the third chapter in this book was written, it would be all Braves as they tallied early and often in the third to complete the win.

The Panthers were forced to call up Peninsula midget goaltender Mike Corbett-Hallett, who blocked 20 of 26 shots directed his way, after both of their 19-year-old goalies – Kylar Stern and Zach Wear – went down with injuries in the past three weeks. Jake Bryan, the Panthers’ captain and arguably one of the top rearguards in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, was also on the shelf with a lower body injury which was certainly a blow to the club, however the Panthers are hoping that all three return for next weekend’s pair of games.

Coach Rob Armstrong was positive after the tough loss.

“I thought our team played a very solid two periods creating chances in the offensive zone, but also defended well and played with confidence. The difference in the game other than Ty Jones was we did not score on our five powerplay chances and they managed to score twice on 11 opportunities. They also had a penalty shot and I know there was a feeling with our players that they got a bit of a raw deal on several of the calls, but I guess that’s hockey. Maybe next time the guys in stripes will see it our way, we certainly believe it is our turn.”

Armstrong was pleased with the performance with a few of his troops.

“Chris McDonald from the back end played with purpose and intensity and I saw him rushing with the puck and was physically engaged in all three zones. And I thought that Fraser Sutherland, who is only 16 years old and getting his feet wet at this level, is starting to adjust to the pace and we are beginning to see him play with confidence.  David Stephens, who only joined the club three weeks, ago had a couple assists and is getting better every game.”

Stephens was named the contest’s third star.

The Panthers next play at home this Friday evening, Jan. 27, hosting the Kerry Park Islanders with the puck set to drop at 7:30 p.m. at Panorama Recreation Centre.