With a first round battle between the Westshore Wolves andthe Peninsula Panthers almost set in stone, the two teams are geared up for oneof the most exciting first round matchups in recent

Lervold has led the way for the Wolves.

memory. The Wolves andPanthers have had some great games this season, including some buzzer beatersand overtime heroics.

The Wolves have been lead by the offence of their Top-6forwards: Corey Peterson, Spencer Preece, Kyle Peterson, Connor Krupa, KyleRichter and Brett Lervold. All six forwards have been bright spots for theWolves this season, but atop the list is Brett Lervold. Lervold has led theoffence for the Wolfpack with 65 points in 42 games, and sits second in leaguescoring and has really turned some heads in the league. Lervold’s vision mixedin with his speed and hockey IQ has turned the Langford native into a scoringmachine this season. It cannot be ignored that Lervold’s teammates are alsopart of the success, and they’ll all have to chip in in order to take down thePanthers.

The PeninsulaPanthers are a tall order, and also feature some scoring prowess of their own.
Tate Coughlin has been sensational.

Sensational rookie Tate Coughlin has been the talk of the league this season,posting 46 points in his rookie season thus far and has even got the call tothe WHL already this season. Connor Logan is another Panther that has brokenout this season, as he sits just one point behind Lervold in the VIJHL scoringrace. Veteran Alex Milligan completes the Panthers’ scoring duo, as he recentlycame over from the Kerry Park Islanders in the Nick Kean trade. Milligan has 37goals this season and has 61 points this season, helping the recent surge ofthe Panthers, who have won 13 straight at home and are the hottest team in theleague right now.

The biggestfactor for the Panthers is their record on the road. While posting an impressiverecord of 18-2-1 at home, the Panthers are 8-11-1 on the road. To Capitalize onthe opportunity, the Wolves must win their home games in the series and forcethe Panthers to make the most of their home ice advantage. Another factor thatmay swing in the Wolves’ way is Panthers’ netminder Stephen Heslop. Many of theWolves’ players are familiar with Heslop’s game and have played with/againstHeslop for years, as the Wolves’ scorers will have a good scouting report onthe Panthers’ netminder. For the Wolves, defence is the biggest factor. TheWolves’ defence has been inconsistent this season, mostly having troublebreaking out of the zone and making crisp passes and avoiding turnovers intheir own end. The Wolves can’t afford to make defensive gaffes against thePanthers in a 7-game series, as the Panthers will pounce on any opportunitythey get.
The story of thisseries will be the offensive guns for sure; specifically Lervold and Richteragainst Coughlin and Logan, as all four players play on their team’s respectivetop lines and will face-off
Preece and Heslop share a grin.

against eachother on numerous occasions. If Lervoldand the Wolves can outwork and outplay the Panthers’ top line, the Wolves couldsecure the win with some help from their defence and secondary scoring in Krupaand Preece. Clay Carson and Tyson Young will be relied on heavily to halt thePanthers’ surging offence, as both defencemen must use their size and grit tokeep the Panthers’ offence on the outside looking in. If the Wolves can containthe Panthers’ offensive guns, the Wolves will be able to win the battles andwin some hockey games. However, that is a tall order, and the Wolves will allhave to chip in in order to make that happen.

Although it isn’tquite set in stone, this matchup is almost bound to happen, and it will be themost competitive and entertaining series of the first round. Although thePanthers are the favorites, the Wolves “never quit” mentality gives them agreat position as the underdogs to overthrow the Panthers.The Wolves have the pieces to make the upsethappen, all they need to do is work hard and win the battles to make it areality. Regardless, the Wolves vs. Panthers series is going to be one hell ofa series.