Nanaimo Buccaneers’ Trey Watson gathers in a loose puck in front of Panthers goaltender Chris Akerman while Thomas Spink looks to help during game action on Dec. 7 at Panorama Recreation Centre. (Gordon Lee photography)

Nanaimo Buccaneers’ Trey Watson gathers in a loose puck in front of Panthers goaltender Chris Akerman while Thomas Spink looks to help during game action on Dec. 7 at Panorama Recreation Centre. (Gordon Lee photography)

Panthers set to close out home schedule before Christmas break

Following a 5-2 loss to Nanaimo, the club will take on Kerry Park Islanders this week

In their last home game before the Christmas break, the Peninsula Panthers will play host to visiting Kerry Park Islanders on Friday after losing to Nanaimo last week.

The Nanaimo Buccaneers came out on the right side of the scoreboard as the visitors knocked off the Panthers 5-2. Although the shots were identical at 25 each, the Buccaneers made the most of their opportunities putting five past Panthers’ goaltender Chris Akerman.

Logan Speirs opened the scoring in the first frame for the home squad when he beat the visitor’s netminder Spencer Deakin and Thomas Spink scored late in the final stanza to make it close but it simply was not enough.

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Head coach Brad Tippett will be looking for a huge effort Friday night against the Islanders.

“Akerman was the first star [the previous] Saturday in a tight 2-1 game that had a playoff atmosphere but he is a 19-year-old and he has not strung a bunch of strong games together like we have expected he would do this season,” said general manager Pete Zubersky.

“He caught fire around this time last year and we are hoping he can capture some lightning in a bottle again this time around,” he added. “It seems that every time we get a strong performance between the pipes we put up a win and we need that type of performance on an ongoing and consistent basis moving forward from here. We have to have it.”

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The Panthers currently have two 19-year-old goaltenders in Akerman and Connor McKillop and the club is waiting for one of them to grab the ball and run with it.

“We have two guys that are good enough to start on any club in this league,” continued Zubersky. “We are a better club than our record suggests. We don’t have a 20-year-old on the roster but we have a number of two and three-year veterans and we are really looking for these guys to step up and make a statement including McKillop and Akerman.”

When the puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Panorama Recreation Centre, it will be the last home game before the team returns to home ice to once again face the Islanders on Jan. 4.


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