Six games, six wins.
That is the record of the Peninsula Panthers after the third weekend of play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). But if the Panthers have six reasons to feel good about their season so far, they will face their biggest test yet this Friday when they host the Victoria Cougars at Panorama Recreation Centre in what general manager Pete Zubersky describes as a “feature early season tilt” in the regular season.
“I think we all have a red circle around Friday’s date when the Cougars are in,” he said. “Our guys were already looking forward to Friday night at our practice on Monday evening and I am sure they are looking at the situation and they will be coming in looking for a win as well.”
The Panthers, however, will enter the game short-handed as Josh Lingard won’t dress for the next two games because of a five-minute major penalty picked up Saturday during the Panthers’ 6-2 victory against the Saanich Jr. Braves. Lingard ranks as the Panthers’ third-leading scorer with 10 points thanks to five goals and five assists.
The Panthers opened the weekend with a 5-2 home victory against the Nanaimo Buccaneers. Lingard scored two goals, while Alex Benger, Luc Pelletier and Mackenzie Benn-Wipp added singles. Connor McKillop stopped 25 out of 27 shots for the victory.
On Sunday, goalie Chris Combiadakis blocked 33 out of 35 shots in a game that hung in the balance tied at two goals apiece after two periods. But two goals from Matt Sparrow and singles from Jack Taylor and Tanner Wort led the Panthers to victory and the coming showdown against the Victoria Cougars. The puck drops at 7:30 at Panorama Recreation Centre.
“It’s a feature early season tilt and I have no doubt that our fans will be loud and supportive of the boys,” said Zubersky.