NORTH SAANICH — The Peninsula Panthers dropped the first two games in their best-of-seven first-round series in Campbell River against the Storm in the Vancouver Island Junior HockeyLeague playoffs — but fought back at home on Sunday.
The Panthers grabbed a game back on Sunday afternoon with a heart-stopping 3-2 win. The Storm had bounced the locals in front of large home crowds up-Island on Tuesday and Friday by scores of 4-0 and 7-0, but the Panthers were able to turn the tables when they got back to some good old home cooking at the Panorama Recreation Centre.
“We love to play at home and our game goes up a level or two when we do,” said Owner Pete Zubersky. “The Storm has such a deep and experience crew and we are learning on the fly just what it takes to compete. They were better than us up there in the first two games but our guys battled and were rewarded when we got back home.”
Goaltender Conner McKillip picked up the win on Sunday and was aided by Tanner Wort, Josh Lingard and Gavin Yee who tallied in the game. Yee’s marker came with just 1:16 left in the game.
Head Coach Brad Tippett was all business after addressing his troops after the contest was in the books and made it clear that he needs every single player on the roster to compete at the highest level.
“In Game 2 we had 10 players and 10 passengers. To beat Campbell River you need all 20 guys playing and we got closer to that number this afternoon. We got excellent goaltending, our defence forced them early and outside and our forwards capitalized on some chances. Saying that, I thought most importantly we played relentless for each other today. We blocked shots and took checks to make the play. There was a resolve not to let your teammate down that wasn’t there in Game 2.”
The Panthers and Storm play Game 4 Monday night (Feb. 26) at 7:30 p.m. and were slated for Game 5 in Campbell River on Tuesday night. Game 6 will be back at the Panorama Recreation Centre on Friday night if needed – puck drops at 7:30 p.m. – with Game 7 going on Saturday in Campbell River.
— News Staff