With three wins in three days, the Kerry Park Islanders locked up third place in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s South Division and a seemingly ideal first-round opponent in the Saanich Braves.
“We can beat Saanich,” Islanders owner Mark Osmond said of the Braves, who locked up second place in the division long ago, but have lost to the Isles in six of eight meetings this season. “That’s the matchup we wanted.”
Jacob Malloch had 10 points as the Isles averaged seven goals a game over the weekend, while Josiah Nadon, Caleb Franklin and Josh Poland each put up seven points.
Jordan Martin finished with six points in the three games, and Kayden Peck scored five goals, including four in Sunday’s home win.
“The boys are coming together,” Osmond said. “Our 20-year-olds — Jacob Malloch, Josh Poland, Garnett Roberts and Jordan Martin — I can’t say enough about those guys. Everyone’s following them. They’re all working well together as a team and getting rewards from it.”
The Isles started the weekend with a 6-3 win over Peninsula Panthers at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday. They led 3-0 by the midpoint of the second period thanks to goals by Poland, Martin and Peck.
The Panthers got on the board late in the second, but Jacob Malloch restored the three-goal lead before the period was over.
The Panthers scored a pair of goals during the extended man advantage they had to open the third period, but Caleb Franklin answered back for Kerry Park and Martin iced it with an empty-netter.
Martin finished the game with two goals and an assist, Jacob Malloch added four assists to go with his goal, and Josiah Nadon had three helpers.
Peck’s four goals sparked the Isles to another win at home on Sunday as they beat the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 8-3. The teams traded goals in the first period, Kerry Park getting theirs from Martin and Peck. The Isles exploded for five goals in the second, including two by Peck and one each by Martin, Will Connors and Jarret Malloch.
The Glacier Kings scored once again in the third, and Peck capped off his big night with a powerplay goal.
Franklin scored twice and added three assists, and Nadon and Poland each had two goals and one assist on Monday as the Isles beat Comox 7-5 in Courtenay on Monday.
The Isles opened the scoring, but trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes and 4-3 after two periods. They took control in the third, outscoring the hosts 4-1. In addition to Franklin, Nadon and Poland, Jacob Malloch also scored and set up one goal.
Perhaps the only Islander to have a bad weekend was goalie Rett Rook. The netminder took an elbow to the head behind the net on Saturday and left the game reluctantly. A shot to the forehead ended his game on Sunday, again against his wishes, and the Isles opted to rest him on Monday. Osmond expects to have his top goalie back before the first round against Saanich.
“It’s another week and a half before we start the playoffs,” Osmond said on Tuesday. “He should be good to go by then.”
Matt Henwood came in to relieve Rook on Saturday and Sunday, then got the start on Monday, and earned his first three wins in an Islanders jersey. Henwood made 24 saves on Saturday and Sunday, and 26 on Monday.
The Isles have one more regular-season game left as they visit the Oceanside Generals on Sunday, but neither team will have anything to gain or lose in that one.
Kerry Park starts the playoffs with games in Saanich on Feb. 22 and 24, followed by home dates on Feb. 25 and 28, starting at 7:30 p.m. Osmond is looking forward to the postseason.
“It’s great to see the kids all having fun and enjoying hockey,” the owner enthused. “Our leaders are being leaders. They all believe in themselves, and that’s the big thing.”