By Skylar Craig, Photos by Richard Hyde

(ISN) – The Peninsula Panthers defeated the Saanich Braves 8-5 Friday night to even their VIJHL semi-final at 3-3, forcing a Game 7 on Saturday afternoon at Pearkes Arena.

Game six of the Panthers – Braves series had an exhilarating ending at Panorama Rec Centre. The home Peninsula Panthers managed to tie up the series, sending it into a thrilling game seven; the winner of which advances to take on the Victoria Cougars in the VIJHL finals.

Six minutes into the first period, Dane Gibson opened up the scoring for the Panthers and in the final thirty-three seconds, Trevor Yee added another. The Panthers had control of the majority of the period, however both teams had numerous scoring opportunities but the Braves could not capitalize. Both goaltenders Tanner McGaw of the Braves and Stephen Heslop of the Panthers started off strong.

The second period was high scoring for both teams. Early on, Joe Densmore contributed a third goal for the Panthers. Josh Bloomenthal added another a few minutes later, after which Braves goalie Tanner McGaw was switched out for backup goalie Bowman Rutledge. After four unanswered goals the Braves came back hard, James Kellington scoring five hole on Panthers’ goalie Stephen Heslop. Ty Jones banked a second with Dan Burkmar adding a beauty of a goal minutes later. David Stephens scored a fifth goal for the Panthers, and Trevor Yee supplied two more (one of which on a penalty shot). Saanich had the last goal in the second period thanks to Jack Palmer after a well setup passing play. In the dying seconds of play, two Panthers were thrown in the penalty box, leaving the Braves with a five-on-three power play to start the third period.

Joe Densmore dodging the puck blasted in by Trevor Yee. Braves Goalie Bowman Rutledge did not having any time to react to the shot.

The third period was disorderly and all over the place, but the Panthers retained their focus throughout. The Braves on the other hand became chaotic and frustrated.

Trevor Yee was impressed with the way the boys played through the third period. “The first period was good. The second period was more of a fire shoot, trading goals back and forth. Other than that we came back in the third, took the lead and kept it.”

Even with a five-on-three advantage, the Braves were unable to capitalize thanks to Spencer Loverock, Tyler Porteous, and Jake Bryan who did a superb job in killing the penalty. Liam Sproule, Jean-Luc Fournier, and Nick Vanstone were all ejected from the game, along with Panthers’ Fraser Sutherland. Two goals were scored in the third, one by James Kellington of the Braves (his second of the night) and one by Panthers call-up Cole Glover.

Braves Jean-Luc Fournier protests a call on him which led to him being ejects from the game and earning a one game suspension. 

The three stars of the game were definitely deserved; Trevor Yee, David Stephens, and Jake Bryan. Trevor Yee, the hero and first star of the game ended the win off with a hat trick.

Panthers Trevor celebrates goal number 3 of the game

Yee was very confident going into this one. “We won the last game so we had momentum from winning in their arena,” he stated after the fact, “we just have to stay out of the box, that’s pretty much it.”

Rookie goaltender Stephen Heslop shared the same confidence. “It felt pretty good going into the game coming off of a big win. I guess all of us have a lot to play for right now and I just felt good about it.” Heslop, who did not feel he played his best game (despite having made several fantastic saves), is planning on bringing it for game seven.

Iver Oedegaard, the Norwegian import who is enjoying the high-speed and physical Canadian hockey, had mixed emotions before the game. “We were on our way up since we’re playing good now, but I was also kind of nervous because if we lost we would be out and the season would be over.” Oedegaard took a severe hit to the head on Wednesday in game five, but was able to come out sturdy to contribute to the win in game six.

Panthers Norwegian Import Iver (pronounced Ee-Ver) Oedegaard Played a great shut down D-Man role in the 6. Bouncing back after a nasty head shot in game 5.

Game seven tonight will decide which team moves on to play the undefeated Victoria Cougars in the finals and which team’s season is at an end. The puck drops at 4:00 PM at Pearkes Arena.

Team Win
Panthers Squad salute the crowd after a well deserved win. They have momentum on their sides now…..Game 7 Saturday 4 PM Pearks Arena.