The Peninsula Panthers split a pair of games, winning in Victoria 4-2 last Thursday night before being knocked off by the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) leading Nanaimo Buccaneers 6-3 at home on Friday.
Head Coach Brad Tippett, like the rest of the organization, has seen a huge improvement and believes the Club is ready to turn the corner.
“We have played some solid hockey in the last couple of weeks and the last time we were in at Archie Browning against the Cougars I thought we have deserved to win,” he said. “Last Thursday we made it a mission to get the win and the all important two points – and we did. The Cougars threw everything that they had at us in third period but we stuck together and held tight.
Friday against the Buccaneers was another solid effort, said the coach.
“It has been a long time since we had 51 shots on anyone (29 in the second period alone) let alone against the top ranked team in the league. We were full-value for a 2-0 lead early in the second period and really had a few great chances to extend that lead.
“We got a little aggressive on a pinch and gave up an odd man rush and that mistake put them back in the game. Nanaimo didn’t win 12 games in a row because they were lucky. They capitalized on a five-minute lapse midway through the second and quickly went up 4-2 and held on for the win. As coaches we must make sure the players see the lessons to be learned from this game.”
Tippett said he thought the weekend split was a huge mental step for his players.
“We are now believing we can play head to head with anyone in the league — IF we play Panthers hockey. The league is so close that anyone can beat anyone else. You just can’t afford to let off the gas peddle for a couple of shifts.”
Tippett noted the Panthers have the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in a home-and-home series this weekend. He said the team scheduled many of these back to back games throughout the season as it raises the intensity level – almost like a miniature playoff series.
“You line up against the same guys two nights in a row – the challenge is there. Having a number of these throughout the season is a good glance into what the playoff intensity will be like.”
Tippett and his troops host the Glacier Kings on Friday night (Oct. 27) at the Panorama Recreation Centre at 7:30 p.m.
— with files from the Peninsula Panthers