COLWOOD, B.C. –After defeating the Panthers on the road by a score of 4-3 in Game One, theWestshore Wolves looked to gain a 2-0 series lead over the Peninsula Pantherson Wednesday night, the second game of a seven game series. Matt Chester gotthe nod for the Wolves once again, as he was sensational in Game one, stopping46 shots en route to a victory on the road.
Stephen Heslop would start in goalfor the visiting Peninsula Panthers.
The first periodbegan slow, but sped up quickly. After some pre-game jitters got out of theplayers’ systems, both teams fixed the sloppy passes and began to solidifytheir game. Matt Chester picked up where he left off, making some great earlystops on the Panthers’ top scorers to keep the game scoreless. The Wolves wouldstrike first in the game, just five minutes in, as Brett Lervold created atwo-on-one and fed a saucer pass to Corey Peterson, who batted the puck out ofmidair to beat Stephen Heslop and give the Wolves the early edge. Shortly afterthe Lervold goal, the two teams began to play the physical game, with big hitsgoing each way and scrums in front on the net becoming much more hostile.
The Wolves wouldrun into some penalty trouble, but the PK unit did a great job of keeping thePanthers shooters to the outside and giving Chester a good look at the shots. WhenChester had to come up big in the first, he delivered. Chester made a huge stopon Alex Milligan, coming across the crease to successfully kill off thepenalty, and also making a huge breakaway pad save on Reece Costain to keep thePanthers off the board in the first. The Wolves would tack on another goal latein the first, as Kyle Peterson threw a beautiful screen pass through the legsof Spencer Preece right on the tape to Connor Krupa, who buried the puckbackdoor to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room. The Wolveswere outshot 18-9 in the period, but the stats lied, as the Wolves had theupper hand in the opening frame and kept the Panthers offence searching foranswers.
Kyle Petersonwould take a roughing penalty late in the first, so the Panthers would open thesecond period on a power play. Matt Chester continued to shine, stopping apinching Sean Buchanan point blank to keep the Panthers off the board. AfterChester made another great stop to kill off the penalty, the Panthers wouldfinally get a puck past the hot goaltender. Connor Logan would redirect a RylanBall point shot through the five-hole of Matt Chester to cut the Wolves’ leadin half. The Wolves and Panthers wouldcontinue to trade chances both ways throughout the frame; Corey Peterson hadanother great chance to score on a breakaway but couldn’t beat Heslop 5-hole,while Milligan would have a breakaway of his own on the penalty kill that wouldbe turned aside by Chester. The Wolves began to lose their composure about halfway through the game, as the Panthers got under their skin and it came back tohaunt them later in the game.
The Wolves wouldtake advantage of the man advantage, as Kyle Richter banged home a CoreyPeterson point shot that rebounded behind Heslop to regain the Wolves’ two goallead. Westshore would finally begin to pay for their lack of composure, as theWolves would be down two men for nearly two minutes, and the Pantherscapitalized. A Cody Breitenstein point shot would find its way through a crowdand beat Chester to bring the Panthers back within one with twenty-sevenseconds left in the frame. Kyle Richter would get into a scrum with JacksonSkerratt and Cole Glover after the buzzer, which would result in a Wolvespenalty, but Westshore would head into the locker room with a one-goal leadwith twenty minutes to go.
The Wolves wouldbegin the third down a mean, but were able to kill off the penalty thanks tosome solid defence from the PK unit. The Panthers would claw back into thegame, as Sean Buchanan ripped a wrist shot from the slot past Chester to knotthe game at three. The Wolves composure would crumble after the Panthers tiedthe game, as Krupa took an unnecessary unsportsmanlike penalty that lead toanother bench minor to put the Wolves down two men once again. The Pantherswould capitalize on the Wolves’ shabby discipline, as Rylan Ball would chip thepuck over Matt Chester at the side of the net to give the Panthers their firstlead of the hockey game on the man advantage. The Panthers would findthemselves in penalty trouble shortly after, as both Branzsen and Milligan wentto the box thirty seconds apart, opening up an opportunity for the Wolves toget back in the game.
On the two manadvantage, Brett Lervold setup Corey Peterson for a wicked one timer thateluded Stephen Heslop to knot the game at four a piece. The Panthers wouldwaste no time responding, as the Panthers came in right off the draw and foundCole Glover all alone in front who went to the backhand and roofed it onChester to restore the Panthers’ lead. Despite the Wolves’ valiant effort atthe end, a Jackson Skerratt dump in from the blue line deflected off the skateof Thomas Strocel and found its way past Chester to give the Panthers the twogoal lead late in the game to put the nail in the coffin. There was a lot ofrough play at the end of the game, as Panthers’ captain Brett Sjerven gave TylerSmith a stick to the teeth, and Smith responded with a full on golf swing atthe calf of Sjerven. Smith was ejected from the game immediately and may facefurther discipline from the league, while Sjerven stuck around for anotherminute or two, taunting the Wolves’ bench and captains before hitting theshowers himself. Regardless, the Panthers left The Q Center with the win and aneven series headed back to Peninsula.
The Wolves’ mainproblem in Game two was their discipline; Peninsula had seventeen power playopportunities in the game, and despite killing off sixteen of them, the amountof penalty kills ended up killing the energy of the Wolves. Everyone on theWolves lost their composure in this game, both the players and the coaches. TheWolves will have to regroup and focus on the next task at hand: game three inPeninsula to try and regain the series lead. The Wolves need to put this gamebehind them and move on; this game was not one to remember.