It’s almost inconceivable to think that Peninsula Panthers defenceman Brett Sjerven would play hockey this season, let alone at the junior level.
Sjerven, 18, had significant health issues in May and was hospitalized for several weeks after he underwent surgery to repair a hole that spontaneously formed in his lung.
While hospitalized, Sjerven was signed by the Panthers but was not given any promise of ice time.
Sjerven began to practice with the squad in late August and although it was what Panthers’ owner, Pete Zubersky calls a “feel good story,” everyone involved within the organization felt he was a long way away from seeing game play.
But Sjerven practiced hard and after being scratched for the first three regular season games, he was inserted into the Panthers’ lineup last Friday at home against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
The Panthers prevailed against the Glacier Kings after goals by Cole Golka, Cody Breitenstein and Zack Smith boosted the Panthers to a 3-2 lead with five minutes left in the game.
But the Glacier Kings were pressing for the equalizer and Sjerven took things into his own hands when the puck landed on the end of his stick. The young defender took a shot at the net that snuck over the shoulder of Glacier Kings’ goaltender Matthew Mitchell.
“I’m sure this was an exciting night for Brett and his family,” said Zubersky. “I thought Brett looked a bit tentative at times, maybe not attacking into the corners early in the game, but he got a bit better as the game went into the later stages and scored a huge goal for the club. I was standing down at that end and it just floated past everyone including the Glacier Kings big goalie.”
Sjerven was named third star at the end of the game and skated out to a standing ovation. Justin Samra, making his first start of the season for the Panthers, blocked 27 of 29 shots directed his way and was named the first star. Forward Cole Golka was named second star.
The Panthers are back at it at home Friday night, Sept. 21, at the Panorama Recreation Centre when they face the Kerry Park Islanders.
Vancouver Canucks singer Mark Donnelly singing the national anthem prior to the 7:30 p.m. puck drop.