The retooled Westshore Wolves are still looking for their first Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League win.
Having lost 5-1 to Comox Valley and 5-2 to Saanich last week, the Wolves faced the fearsome 1-2 punch of last year’s playoff finalists Campbell River Storm and Victoria Cougars on back-to-back nights this week.
The Wolves put together their best effort of the season at The Q Centre on Wednesday night, despite losing 5-3 to the visiting Storm. After giving up the first two goals, Westshore tied it up with late second-period markers from Cameron Kinsman and Tanner Sidaway, then grabbed a 3-2 lead early in the third on a goal from Matteo Giomo.
Campbell River’s Gage Colpron scored his second of the game to make it 3-3 less than minute later and the teams battled for the go-ahead goal. Former Wolves player Christian Brandt got some revenge on his old team when he bagged the eventual winner at the 17:47 mark. With Wolves goalie Chris Smith pulled for an extra attacker, Colpron completed the hat trick.
The Wolves, who last season were the second-best team in the South Division not playing out of the Archie Browning Sports Centre, are in a rebuilding stage, with seven returnees on the roster for 2015-16.
Corey Hatcher, who scored 19 goals and added 13 assists in a team-high 47 games last season, leads that group, helped by Jacob Malloch and No. 1 goalie Smith.
Corey Peterson, leading scorer from last season, moved on as did offensive leaders Connor Krupa, Kyle Richter, Spencer Preece, Clay Carson and Jamie Severs. Smith is backed up this year by newcomer Leighton Williams.
The team also has a new head coach, with former Victoria Grizzlies and Peninsula Panthers coach/general manager Jackson Penney having replaced Brian Passmore.
After tonight’s game at Archie Browning against the defending league champion Cougars, the Wolves are back home on Sept. 23 when they host the Kerry Park Islanders. Game time is 7 p.m.