Islanders face playoff challenge
Their first-round playoff opponent is set and the Kerry Park Islanders know it’s going to be a tall order.
After finishing the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s regular season with a game at Peninsula Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Kerry Park Arena against the Saanich Braves, the Islanders will head right into the playoffs next week against the Victoria Cougars.
The first game in the best-of-seven is next Thursday, Feb. 20 at Victoria and the teams meet in the rematch at Kerry Park Arena Saturday, Feb. 22.
“They’re beatable, for sure,’’ said Islanders’ captain Eric Mansueti. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to try our best.
“Hopefully, we can outwork them and see where it goes from there.’’
Mansueti conceded the Islanders need to get off to a strong start in the series.
“We’re just hoping we can steal one in their rink,’’ he said. “We usually play them pretty well in our rink.’’
The Islanders split a pair of games last week, winning 3-2 over the Braves in Saanich Friday and dropping a 6-2 decision to the Westshore Wolves Saturday at Cowichan Arena.
The Braves, who will finish behind the Islanders in the South Division, came out firing and put 41 shots on net. But Leighton Williams provided the Islanders with acrobatic goaltending.
“They came at us pretty hard,’’ said Mansueti. “We withstood that and being able to pull it out was good.’’
Mansueti scored the winner with the Islanders shorthanded off a Saanich miscue with only 17 seconds left in regulation time.
The Islanders iced the puck and Mansueti’s presence loused up Saanich.
“I just somehow got there first and threw it on net and hit their goalie’s skate,’’ he said. “That was that. It went in.’’
Matt Osmond scored the other two goals for the Islanders.
Colton Burt and Hobin Zinck tallied in the loss to Westshore.
“We almost looked tired out there,’’ said Mansueti. “We’ve got a pretty short lineup. There’s a lot of injuries right now and it’s kind of tough.’’