The Peninsula Panthers did away with a recent trend that included just two wins in the past 10 games Thursday night in Kerry Park. The team put in a workman-like effort picking up a 9-6 win over the Islanders.
“I think our group was going through the mid-season blues,” said Panthers owner Pete Zubersky. “I don’t know why it happens, but I have seen it happen to a lot of clubs. The playoffs seem in the distance and guys lose their focus just a bit, but a minor tweak here and there can often turn a season around.”
With the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs looming, the club returned to the tried and tested ingredient for success: hard work.
Joe Densmore, 20, led the way scoring three times and adding a helper. Trevor Yee, who the Panthers obtained in a deal with the Islanders at Christmas, scored twice as did hard working forward Josh Bloomenthal. David Stephens and Cody Allison added singles while Zach Wear blocked 27 of 33 shots. The Panthers’ 20-year-old captain Jake Bryan had three assists.
The following night the Panthers played host to the Victoria Cougars and again showed a new level of excitement and intensity in their game. Cougars Jake Stolz and Christopher Bannister scored in the first and, when Nathan Chen-Mack added another midway through the third period giving the visitors a three-goal cushion, most of the crowd would have expected a soft finish to the game. But the Panthers continued the battle missing numerous opportunities before Yee broke the goose egg with just over a minute left. Perhaps it was a meaningless goal in a 3-1.
“We really battled as a group in both games and for a full 60 minutes,” Zubersky said. “I think we still have one or two passengers at most at this point, but I suspect by the weekend, after we have had a couple practices and the expectations are absolutely clear, we should have everyone pulling on the rope. This club is the defending provincial champions and there are quite a few bodies in our room that know what it takes to win. These guys will not allow passengers.”
The Panthers have a rare Thursday night game against the Saanich Braves and then finish off their regular season home schedule on Friday against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. Both games are at Panorama at 7:30 p.m.