by Jordan Henry
February 15, 2014 (ISN) – Peninsula Panthers (2nd in South 30-13-2-3) Vs Westshore Wolves (3rd in South 21-19-3-5). The Peninsula Panthers and Westshore Wolves are set to have one of the most exciting opening round playoff series in the VIJHL. 3 of the top 4 leading scorers in the league will be facing off against each other.
Season series – Panthers lead 5-1-1-1
Westshore 4 @ Peninsula 7 Sept 13th
Joey Karrer’s first VIJHL win is a 7-4 final at Panorama
Westshore 3 @ Peninsula 3 Sept 20th
Backup goaltenders duel goes the distance to a 3-3 tie
Westshore 3 @ Peninsula 5 Oct 4th
3 point night from Connor Logan leads Peninsula to a 5-3 win
Peninsula 5 @ Westshore 3 Nov 6th
Big 3 point night from Costain helps the Panthers to a 5-3 road win
Peninsula 5 @ Westshore 6 OT Dec 18th
Wolves score twice in final 2 minutes and Tyler Smith pots the winner in OT
Panthers 6 @ Westshore 4 Jan 8th
Milligan and Branzsen both score in their Panthers debut en route to a 6-4 win
Westshore 5 @ Peninsula 10 Jan 24th
Milligan nets a hat-trick and Panthers explode offensively for a 10-5 win
Peninsula 3 @ Westshore 5 Feb 12th
Outstanding goaltending by Dueck gives Wolves huge statement win going into playoffs.
Brett Lervold of the wolves is 4th in League Scoring with 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 Points. Connor Logan is second in league scoring with 28 goals and 47 assists for 75 points, the most in the South Division. Right behind him is new trade deadline acquisition Alex Milligan who is lighting it up as a Panther.
Since joining the team Alex has 17 goals and 9 assists for 26 points in 13 games. He led the league in goals with 46 and added 27 assists to give him 73 points. The matchup between the pipes is set to be very interesting, both teams have very proven goaltenders and could see starts from any of the 4 of them.
The Peninsula Panthers Stephen Heslop and Joey Karrer are both in the top 10 in league GAA. Heslop with a 3.07 and Karrer with 2.96. Heslop saw the last 5 starts to end the season so look for him to be hot going into the playoffs. Matt Chester should be the starter between the pipes come game 1 but don’t be surprised if Nick Dueck is between the pipes. Nick had fantastic numbers against Peninsula this year and Chester was yanked in his last start of the regular season against the Victoria Cougars after returning from injury. Both Chester and Dueck were top 10 in South Division GAA as Chester had a 4.40 and Dueck a 4.84.
These teams went head to head 8 times this season. Peninsula averaged 5.5 goals per game against Westshore and Westshore averaged 4.125 goals per game against Peninsula. Connor Logan led the way against Westshore scoring 9 goals and adding 7 assists in 8 games against the Wolves, Veteran forward Jackson Skerratt had 3 goals and 9 assists in 8 meetings and rookie sensation Tate Coughlin had 3 goals and 7 assists in 7 contests.
Deadline pickup Alex Milligan had 4 goals and 2 assists in 3 meetings with Westshore as a member of the Panthers. The defence was led by Cody Breitenstein who had a goal and 8 assists in 8 meetings and led the Panthers as a +12 against Westshore. Brett Lervold led the way against the Panthers, he had 6 goals and 6 assists in 8 head to head matchups, Kyle Peterson the ex Panther had 2 goals and 5 assists in 7 games and Kyle Richter had 2 goals and 3 assists in 4 games.
Their defence was led by Connor Krupa who switches between defence and forward who had 3 goals and 6 assist in 8 games. All 4 goaltenders saw action in the regular season. Stephen Heslop went 3-1-0-1 against the Wolves with a .862 SV% and 4.16 GAA and Joey Karrer went 2-0-1-0 with a .877 SV% with a 4.10 GAA. Wolves goaltender Matt Chester went 1-4-0-0 against Peninsula with an .827 SV% and a 7.34GAA and was pulled twice for Nick Dueck who went 1-1-1-0 with a .923 SV% with a 3.11 GAA in 3 starts and coming in for relief twice. In these 8 games the Panthers outshot the Wolves 339-255 and went 6/56 on the PP and the Wolves went 9/56.
It been a tale of 2 completely different teams for the Panthers this year. At home they are 21-2-1-0 but only 9-11-1-3 on the road, good news for them they have home ice in this series. The Wolves were also an exceptionally better team at home with a 14-6-1-3 record there vs a 7-13-2-2 away from home. Each team is going to have to achieve certain things to win this series. These are my keys to the series:
Keys to the Series for Westshore:
1) Shut down the scorers. The Peninsula Panthers have had some of their highest scoring games against the Wolves this year. In only 2 of the 8 games did Westshore manage to hold Peninsula to less than 5 goals and they grabbed 3 of a possible 4 points in those games.
2) Steal one in Peninsula. The Panthers tied with Victoria for the best home record in the VIJHL, since Westshore doesn’t have home ice advantage in this series they are going to have to find a way to beat Peninsula in a building where they’ve won 16 straight games and haven’t lost since October 25th.
3) Status of Richter. If Westshore is going to win this series they are going to have to score lots, Kyle Richter has been out of the lineup since February 5th after sustaining an apparent head injury. He only played in 27 of 48 games. His scoring touch is needed as the Wolves are 10-5-0-2 in games where he scores.
Keys to the series for Peninsula:
1) Goals! Goals! Goals! The Panthers scored 44 goals in the 8 games head to head this year. If you weren’t sure, that’s a lot. The Wolves are the most explosive team in this league and if you think you’re safe with a lead you probably aren’t. Scoring first is a huge key for Peninsula, they’re 18-3-1-1 when they score first. The Panthers can’t let up in this series and do what they do best. Put the puck in the net.
2) Discipline. The Panthers are the most penalized team in the league and the Wolves have the third best powerplay, that’s a recipe for trouble. If they don’t burn you with the man advantage they’ll burn you with their speed 4 on 4. Stay out of the box and this series will be one step easier.
3) Physicality. Peninsula is a way better team when they use their big bodies to bang the opponent around. Players like Costain and Vickers can cause a lot of havoc especially on the forecheck. Playoffs are a war on the ice and even your skill guys need to get physical. Panthers size and grit are definitely going to have to be on display in this opening round and any playoff series following.
Jordan Henry will be behind the mic for every game in this series Home and Away!
- Game #1 @ Panorama Monday, Feb 17th @ 7:30 pm SPORTSJUICE
- Game #2 @ Bear Mountain Wednesday, Feb 19th @ 7:00 pm FASTHOCKEY
- Game #3 @ Panorama Friday, Feb 21 @ 7:30 pm SPORTSJUICE
- Game #4 @ Bear Mountain Saturday, Feb 22 @ 6:00 pm FASTHOCKEY
- Game #5 @ Panorama Monday, Feb 24 @ 7:30 (if required) SPORTSJUICE
- Game #6 @Bear Mountain Tues, Feb 26 @ 7:00 (if required) FASTHOCKEY
- Game#7 @Panorama Friday, Feb 28 @7:30 pm (if required) SPORTSJUICE
The games on Sportsjuice can be found by going to ppanthers.bc.ca and clicking the “Listen Live” tab in the top right corner, these broadcasts will be audio only and 100% FREE. If you are listening on your smartphone or mobile device the games can be streamed by downloading the “TuneIn Radio App” and searching “Peninsula Panthers” in the browse section. The games on FASTHOCKEY can be found at fasthockey.com as a PPV video format.