The Panthers’ Skyler Diamond-Burchuk (left), Braeden Hansen #5, affiliated player David Edgar #22 and goaltender all scramble to keep the puck out of the net in second period action Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre. (Gordon Lee Photography)

Panthers scratch and claw their way through weekend hockey action

Peninsula club picks up seven of eight popssible points in VIJHL league play

Peninsula bounced the Braves and inched closer to the Islanders in the tight South division of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Coming off three wins, the Peninsula Panthers (8-8) were not content to see a game get away from them easily, so they took the Kerry Park Islanders (8-9) through two overtime periods before conceding a late goal and picking up the single point.

Peninsula, now sitting in third place in the South — tied with Kerry Park and the Saanich Braves (8-10) with 17 points apiece) — is only a point behind the second-place Victoria Cougars and four off the division-leading Westshore Wolves. With the division that close, a bad bounce of the puck here and there could swing the standings either way.

With the double overtime loss, coming with only a minute left in the second overtime period, Peninsula grabbed seven of a possible eight points in their last four games. They downed the visiting Braves, 4-2, Friday night at Panorama Recreation Centre. Playing well as a team, Peninsula now must get ready to host the Campbell River Storm (14-4) this Friday night.

Chris Akerman played between the pipes in both games on the weekend and was solid. He was selected as the second star on Friday night, blocking 31 of 33 shots. Scoring for the Panthers were Cainan Briscoe with his first marker of the season, Brendan Martin, Riley Braun and Josh Lingard with a last second empty netter. Briscoe was named the first star on Friday night.

On Saturday night in Mill Bay, five different Panthers chipped in with single markers including Jack McMillan, Marshall Brown, Tanner Wort, Bryson Hines and Martin. But for an unlucky break deep into double overtime, the Panthers looked like they would pull out the win. On a 4-on-3 power play they controlled the puck and had several great scoring opportunities before it went back to the point. The Panthers’ defenceman’s skate hit a rut in the ice causing him to lose the puck and this resulted in a game-ending breakaway for the Islanders.

Head Coach Brad Tippett has the team hitting on almost all the cylinders right now.

“Overall I was happy with the weekend but not satisfied,” said Tippett. “It was great to see some other guys on the scoresheet. We got a lot of miles from Thomas Spink, Brendan Hansen and Skyler Diamond-Burchuk on Saturday when Shota Yamamoto was sitting out a one-game suspension.

“I think the best part of the weekend for me was how we responded to pressure and challenges. When things went against us we battled back. We did a great job holding a lead on Friday and fought back from two-goal deficits twice on Saturday. Ty Hermsen and Marshall Brown game us some great leadership Saturday. The South is tight. The only thing we can control is our games and that is our focus.”

The Panthers will look to take the wind out of the Storm on Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre with the puck set to drop at 7:30 p.m.

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