The Peninsula Panthers head into a light part of their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) schedule with two more wins to their record thanks to Tanner Wort.
On Wednesday, he scored with 1.5 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Westshore Wolves, a team that has given the Panthers some trouble over the course of the season. On Friday, he was among four goal-scorers as the Panthers beat the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings 4-2 while outshooting them 49-19.
“It was good to be rewarded with 4 points from the two games this week,” said Brad Tippett, head coach, who looks forward to the quasi-break awaiting the Panthers. “The schedule is light with only one game in the next 13 days [Nov. 29 at home against the Kerry Park Islanders, 7:30 p.m. face-off], giving us a chance to heal some bumps and bruises as well as work on things we need to improve.”
They include among others goal-tending. “Our goaltending has been plagued with a soft goal at inopportune times,” said Tippett. “We need that shored up in a hurry.”
Overall, Tippett made many reasons to feel good about his team. “The coaching staff thought we gave extra effort, made smart decisions, and a team-first attitude for about 110 of the 120 minutes played this past week,” he said. “A couple of breakdowns kept both games closer than we would have liked but we used the 10 subpar minutes as great teaching tools. We gave up five goals and the cause of all five was easily identifiable. More importantly, they are easily fixable.”
This focus on process was evident in Wednesday’s winning goal against the Wolves.
With under 10 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 3-3, overtime loomed on the horizon. But a set play following a face-off in the Panthers’ end saw Wort streaking in all alone seconds later. Wort for his part made no mistake, softly lifting a backhand into the net for his second goal and the win.
Wort also wrote himself onto the score sheet Friday as the Panthers entertained 300 fans at Panorama Recreation with a 4-2 victory. Alex Benger, Sterling Lyon and Jonah Ragsdale also scored, while Connor McKillop was between the pipes for both victories.
The pair of victories gave the Panthers a total of 20 wins after 25 games, good enough for 40 points and a four point lead on the Victoria Cougars, who have four games in hand. They, however, will have a chance to make up ground, as they will play three games to the Panthers’ one until Dec. 6.
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