Islanders' lineup possesses plenty of playoff experience
The Kerry Park Islanders won't be favoured in their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoff series against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, but it doesn't bother them.
The Islanders actually have more significant playoff experience they hope will make the difference in the best-of-seven series that starts Tuesday in Courtenay. Game two is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Kerry Park Arena.
The Peterson boys — Cole and Kyle — both played on last season's championship Peninsula team and Josh Garneau also brings provincial playoff experience to the Islanders' lineup.
But Conner Morgan is clearly the good luck charm, having been to the provincial tournament three times in Junior B, twice with Oceanside and once with Fernie.
"If you've got him on your team, you're going to provincials,''' said Islanders' coach Brad Scafe.
"We don't have that excuse of not having the experience and knowing what it takes to get there.''
When you factor in the quality of players like captain Cole Thomson and the explosiveness he brings, Scafe is actually feeling pretty good about the matchup with Comox Valley.
"We've played them pretty well for the most part all year,'' said Scafe. "We'll have our full lineup against them which we haven't had all year. We'll have everybody ready to go. I think, now, if our guys put in the effort we can win.''
Thomson had his motor running in high gear, picking up nine points in two games — a 6-5 loss Friday to the Storm at Campbell River and a 7-1 victory over the Peninsula Panthers Saturday at Kerry Park Arena — that brought the Islanders' regular season to a close.
"Him, alone, doing that we're going to win more than we lose,'' said Scafe.
The Islanders finished sixth in the league, thus the match-up with No. 3 Comox Valley. No. 1 Victoria receives a first-round bye while No. 2 Saanich faces No. 7 Campbell River and No. 4 Oceanside meets No. 5 Peninsula.
Scafe sees the consistent contribution of Victoria's older players as a big reason for the Cougars' success this season. "It's time for our guys to do the same thing,'' he said.
Scafe feels if the Islanders can get some momentum going in the first round, anything can happen.
"We're coming together,'' he said. "I think for us this year it's better that all our series are going to be on the road. We play, for some reason, better on the road.''
The Islanders dug themselves a 5-0 hole in Campbell River before storming back. They had a full 10 minutes left to tie it after closing within a goal, but couldn't complete the comeback.
Thomson collected a hat trick and one assist while Clay Carson had three assists. Eric Mansueti and Chase Jackson-Puff scored the other Islanders' goals.
The Islanders blew Peninsula away with four goals in the first period and three in the third. Thomson tallied five assists and Carson posted two goals and two assists.
Morgan (2), Cole Peterson, Alex Milligan and Travis Oickle rounded out the scoring.