A young Peninsula Panthers squad split a pair of opening games over the weekend.
On Friday evening, the club broke out a new set of jerseys and a lineup almost completely revamped from last season. The fresh team did not disappoint, beating the Westshore Wolves 3-1.
The Wolves are a new entry in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Their lineup, however, is filled with veteran junior hockey players including three former Panthers who played here last season.
New Panther Josh Adkins,17, opened the scoring at 5:29 of the first frame on helpers from Daniel Welch and Spencer Loverock, followed just over a minute later with a blast from Peninsula Minor Hockey product Zack Smith.
Panther Cody Allison dished the puck to teammate Will Finlay, and after two great plays made to beat Wolves defenders, the puck slid to Smith who sailed one by Wolves goalie, Alec Dillon.
The Wolves’ Spencer Preece beat Panthers’ netminder Stephen Heslop later in the period, which sent the teams to the dressing rooms with the Panthers clinging to a 2-1 lead.
After an evenly fought second period, a power play in the third saw Panther Dane Gibson alone in the high slot blasting the puck past Dillon to give the home squad a bit of breathing room.
Heslop held tough for the final minutes of the game and the Panthers celebrated the win. He was named the game’s first start and said that the jitters were with him for a stretch of the game.
“I was really nervous for the first period and a bit,” he said.
“I finally felt calm in the third period after I settled in. I was surprised how nervous I was, but I am glad we got through the game and put up the win.”
On Sunday the club travelled to Parksville to take on the Oceanside Generals.
At 8:59 of the first frame, Generals’ Cam McCarrick opened the scoring. Generals’ goalie Joshua Alalouf and Heslop would shut the door for their respective teams the rest of the way, leaving the Generals to escape with a 1-0 win.
The young Peninsula Panthers team next plays host to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Friday at the Panorama Recreation Centre. The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m.