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From the Peninsula Panthers

Sidney, BC (ISN) – The Peninsula Panthers started the season off on the right foot on Friday night with a well-deserved 3-1 win over the visiting Westshore Wolves.


A large crowd streamed into the Panorama Recreation Complex on Friday evening to watch the hometown Peninsula Panthers open their 2012/13 regular season campaign and, although their collective hearts may have skipped the odd beat during the entertaining affair, they left to the tune of “Happy Trails.”

The Panthers were entertaining the Westshore Wolves, a new entry in the VIJHL but a team which already looks like it will challenge for one of the top rungs in the Southern Division of the League. The ownership of the Wolves have left no stone unturned and they rode onto the Peninsula looking to add another notch in their belts. The Wolves had opened their season at home on Wednesday and had downed the visiting Kerry Park Islanders 1-0.

But it was the Panthers who would escape with a 3-1 win in a very evenly-played contest. 17-year-old Josh Adkins opened the scoring with just over five minutes played with assists coming from Daniel Welch and Spencer Loverock.

The Panthers hit the scoresheet again just a little over a minute later when 17-year-old Will Finlay, who hails from Whistler, made what was arguably the play of the game. After toe dragging a couple Wolves defenders, the slick right winger dished the disk to Peninsula product Zack Smith who made no mistake whistling one past Wolves’ Goaltender Alec Dillon. Cody Allison picked up the second assist.

But the Wolves put themselves back in the game when Spencer Preece solved Panthers starting goaltender Stephen Heslop before the first frame had ended. The two teams went toe-to-toe for the next 35 minutes and with just over five minutes remaining in the game and the Panthers clinging to a 2-1 lead, an errant Wolves stick caught Panthers veteran forward Dane Gibson high, in turn causing a leakage problem. The Panthers went on a four-minute powerplay and it would be Gibson playing on the point who would slide down into the high slot and send a laser beam high over the glove hand of Dillon. Cole Glover picked up the lone helper on the insurance marker. The two-goal lead would hold and a happy group celebrated their first win in front of a near capacity crowd.

The Wolves Dillon blocked 24 shots in taking the loss while Heslop stopped 30 of 31 attempts guided his way. The three stars in the affair were;

1st Star – Heslop

2nd Star – Dillon

3rd Star – Dane Gibson

The Panthers travel to Oceanside on Sunday to play the Generals in a rematch with their first round playoff opponent last February. The club will then play the Saanich Braves at Pearkes Arena on Wednesday evening before returning home next Friday where they will play host to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

Panthers tracks.…Glover, Cole Golka and Logan Gibson were wearing letters for the club in the opener….20-year-old Brent Clarke might just be the biggest player in the VIJHL….forward Jonas Horvath and defenceman Brett Sjerven were scratched after warmup….Horvath is coming off a broken foot suffered in a non-hockey incident this summer while Sjervan is recovering from a lung issue which surfaced during the summer months….Wolves Josh Bloomenthal, Chris McDonald and Kayle Ramsay made their first visit to the Panorama Recreation Centre as visitors rather than with the home team….The three were traded this off-season.