Isles continue to build despite cancellation of preseason games

Kerry Park continues to build toward 2021-22 regular season

Captain Matt Baird will be returning to the Kerry Park Islanders this season after a stint with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. (Citizen file)

The VIJHL’s Kerry Park Islanders’ set of three exhibition games against the Lake Cowichan Kraken was cancelled last weekend.

According to Kraken spokesperson Nick Taylor, it was Kerry Park that pulled out of the contest that was set to take place in Lake Cowichan. The Kraken are still scheduled to play a home-and-home series against the Nanaimo Buccaneers this Thursday and Friday.

“We are still gearing up for our next exhibition game on Sept. 3rd against the Nanaimo Buccaneers and hope to see you all there,” Taylor said.

A spokesperson from the Islanders said it was a lack of players that kept the game from happening.

“A lot of players are still out of town,” they stated in a Facebook message.

The Isles have a home-and-home series against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings coming up, at Kerry Park on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and in Courtenay on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

The regular season kicks off for the Kraken on Wednesday, Sept. 8, when they visit the Westshore Wolves. The Isles will open their regular season at home against the Kraken on Saturday, Sept. 11.

READ MORE: Kerry Park and Lake Cowichan to clash twice during VIJHL season

While they haven’t been in action on the ice yet, the Isles have been busy off it, announcing the addition of four players to their roster on social media in recent days.

Most notable is the return to the fold of defenceman Matt Baird, who will resume his duties as team captain. The Cowichan Bay product has recorded 47 points in 111 games with the Isles, dating back to the 2017-18 season, including eight points in 11 contests during last year’s abbreviated campaign. He joined the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the B.C. Hockey League’s spring 2021 pod season, and posted four points in 13 games in his first taste of junior A hockey, but opted to return to junior B for his final season of eligibility.

The Isles have also added Baird’s Bulldogs teammate from last season, 18-year-old forward Logan Walker. The Courtenay product notched two goals in 16 games with the Bulldogs, and has previous VIJHL experience, having played five games as an AP with the Nanaimo Buccaneers in 2019-20.

Also bolstering the Kerry Park blueline is 19-year-old Vancouver product Marko Tokic, who spent the last two seasons with the Port Moody Panthers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Tokic had one assist in eight appearances last season and five helpers in 24 games the year before.

Forward Mateo Sjoberg, 17, joins the Isles from the U18 AAA Valley West Giants for whom he had 13 points in 37 games in 2019-20. Sjoberg was selected by the Tri-City Americans in the fifth round of the 2019 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

– With files from Sarah Simpson

Cowichan Valley Citizen