The Peninsula Panthers are beginning to play like a team with a sense of urgency, as evidenced by their 4–2 win over the visiting Westshore Wolves.
With less than 10 games in the regular season, the Panthers are in a battle for playoff positioning and a lot will be decided in terms of their first round matchup over the span of the next four weeks. They know it and it seemed like a sizeable crowd in attendance also knew it as the atmosphere at the Panorama was electric from the first faceoff until the final buzzer.
Panthers’ leading scorer Josh Lingard drew first blood when he intercepted an errant pass at the 4:32 mark., when he skated in close and then sent a bullet past Wolves’ starter Jordan Spandli.
The diminutive speedster Jonah Ragsdale extended the lead to 2–0 when at the 15:46 mark he converted on a great effort from linemates Jack Taylor and Logan Speirs to close out the scoring in the initial stanza.
The Panthers took a 3–0 commanding lead when Riley Braun scored at the 9:02 mark of the second frame. Panthers’ starter Chris Akerman and the Wolves‘ goaltender were perfect for the balance of the period and the lead held as the two teams headed to the intermission.
It was Braun again only 37 seconds into the final period and on the power play on a nice feed from Lingard and it appeared as though the Panthers had it all sewn up.
However, an injured animal is a dangerous one. Kahlil Fontana scored for the visitors at the 1:07 mark and then Keegan Durrance beat Akerman just over a minute later, keeping local fans on the edge of their seats.
The clock slowly ticked down and the buzzer finally sounded and in the end the Cats hung on to the 4-2 win, a much-needed one.
“It was a solid effort all the way through our lineup. Our special teams were good. We did a lot of little simple things very well,” said coach Brad Tippet. “Sometimes players think if they make one great play, all will be better when in fact just a series of perfectly executed simple plays is far superior. Goaltending is key down the stretch and Akerman was near the top of his game. He looked confident in the net and was back to being vocal with his defencemen.”
The Panthers are back home Friday night at 7:30 pm when they host the visiting Saanich Braves.