The Panthers’ Jack Taylor (#23) and Jonah Ragsdale (#20) tag-team an unidentified Westshore Wolves’ forward in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Friday night as the Panthers won 6-2. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)

Peninsula Panthers seize league lead by winning two out of three

The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League club becomes first team with 50 points

The Peninsula Panthers cracked the big 5-0 over the weekend and remain in the penthouse of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) on points.

After winning two out of three games in five days, the Panthers find themselves with 50 points, one ahead of the Victoria Cougars, who own the league’s highest winning percentage, having played three fewer games.

This said, the Panthers’ performance pleased head coach Brad Tippett, who credited his team with playing with passion, determination and good execution.

“Special teams succeeded at critical times and we got key saves at critical times,” he said. “This group sticks up for each other, helps each other, and are committed in not letting the others down. We knew seven-game December would be our toughest month. Playing two more games with similar passion will hopefully give the players a very happy Christmas break.”

RELATED: Peninsula Panthers jump into first place with win over arch-rivals Victoria Cougars

The Panthers opened the recent run of games with a 3-2 road loss to the Westshore Wolves but gained a measure of revenge Friday when they cruised to a 6-2 home victory against those same Wolves. The Panthers led 5-0 halfway through the second period, only to lose concentration as the Wolves scored twice to narrow the gap. But late in the period, rookie Luc Pelletier stopped the Wolves’ comeback with the Panthers’ final goal of the evening. The Panthers then capped off the weekend with 3-1 road victory against the Oceanside Generals in Parksville with goalie Connor McKillop claiming his league-leading 19th victory following Friday’s victory.

Sunday’s win moved the Panthers to the 50-point plateau with the team showing no signs of slowing as they prepare for their last two games before taking a 12-day Christmas break. The Panthers will look to maintain their mastery over opponents from the North Division Friday when they travel to Campbell River where they will look for the 15th victory in 15 games against opponents from that division. Their final game before the break will take them to Saanich where they face the Braves Sunday afternoon.

The Panthers’ next home will be Jan. 3 when they welcome the Cougars in what promises to be the most important game of the regular season thus far.


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