NORTH SAANICH — “We had a great week of practice but we also know that the Storm hockey club is coming into our barn on a mission.”
With that statement, Peninsula Panthers’ Head Coach Rob Mortin summarized last Friday night’s game at the Panorama Recreation Centre.
The Storm were coming off a loss the weekend prior and the youthful Panthers are just coming into their own. Both Clubs can skate, but it was the Storm who were more determined, building up a 4-0 lead by the end of the second period.
Panthers’ Michael Neale rolled down the right wing and threw a shot at Storm Goaltender Andy Gilker, and a big rebound went right onto the stick of Panthers’ defenceman Ryan Warner who had joined the rush. Warner pounded it past Gilker to put the Panthers within three goals heading into the final period.
The Panthers wasted no time when Kai Turner scored only 17 seconds in. Michael Sproule added a tally at the 3:09 mark. But the Storm responded less than two minutes later and then added an insurance marker with 40 seconds left to win, 6-3. Panthers’ goaltender Alex Olson blocked 27 of 33 shots.
“We did not get off the mark like we needed to,” explained Mortin. “We talk about making adjustments so that we are mentally ready to compete and our kids are getting better at it. After saying that, they are still not at a point where I want them to be.”
On Sunday, Peninsula was in Campbell River for the back end of the home-and-home. In an exciting game, and with just over a minute to play, the Panthers trailed 4-3. Olsen was pulled for the extra attacker and after several scoring opportunities, defenceman Ryan Warner backhanded a shot that bounced off the post and narrowly missed tying the game.
The Storm raced down the ice and scored the insurance marker with 33 seconds left.
The Panthers welcome in the visiting Westshore Wolves on Friday night in an important South Division game. The puck is set to drop at the Panorama Recreation Centre at 7:30 p.m.