COLWOOD B.C. –The Westshore Wolves looked to bounce back against the Peninsula Panthers onSaturday in Game 4 after dropping the previous two games against the Panthers.The Wolves were without both Eric MacLennan and Tyler Smith for Game 4, whilethe Panthers were missing Braeden Pearce and Kyle Richardson. Kayle Ramsay madehis return to the lineup, hoping to resurrect the Wolves’ power play that hasbeen slumping in his absence.
The first period,despite the score, wasn’t one the Wolves want to remember moving forward. MattChester was once again the Wolves’ best player in the opening frame, makingthirteen key stops in the period to keep the Wolves in the game. The Wolveswould strike first, as Kyle Peterson would head to the net and find a looserebound in front that he snapped past Heslop to give the Wolves the early lead.The Wolves would have a shabby period after the goal, however, as the Wolveshad some serious troubles on their breakout and turned the puck over almost oncontact for the remainder of the period. The Panthers would finally capitalizeon the Wolves’ mistakes, as Rylan Ball would knot the game late in the first tosend both teams to the dressing room locked at one a piece.
The Pantherscontinued where they left off in the first, as Rylan Ball potted home hissecond goal of the game with a great play to bring the pass through his feetand to his stick to snap it past Chester to give the Panthers their first leadof the hockey game. The Wolves continued to blunder until Jordan Law of thePanthers took a penalty to send the Wolf pack to the power play. It only tookhalf a minute for the Wolves to strike, as Connor Krupa deflected a Clay Carsonpoint shot past Heslop to knot the game and rejuvenate a frustrated Westshoreteam. The Wolves would pick up their game immensely after the Krupa goal, asthe Wolves became the attackers, forcing turnovers and displaying a greatfore-check and breakout.The Wolveswould regain the lead just over halfway through the frame, as Panthers’ defenceman Sean Buchanan gift-wrapped a turnover right to Kyle Peterson in front, whomade no mistake. The Wolves had to have been happy with their efforts in thesecond half of the frame, setting up for a one goal lead heading into thethird.
Despite a heartedeffort in the second half of the previous period, the intermission wasn’t kindto the Wolves, as the Panthers scored just eighteen seconds into the third totie the game with the man advantage, as Jackson Skerratt redirected a RylanBall shot past Chester to tie the game. The Panthers would tack on anothergoal, as Cody Breitenstein put a seeing-eye shot through a crowd in front thatfound it’s way to the back of the net, giving the Panthers the lead once again.The Wolves wouldn’t wait long to respond, as a Spencer Preece shot missed thenet, which Corey Peterson found and wrapped the puck around the net to KyleRichter in front who beat out Heslop and continued the see-saw game. The Wolveswould take a costly penalty late, as Kyle Peterson went to the box for highsticking with just over three minutes left in the game. The Panthers wouldcapitalize as Reece Costain would tip a Breitenstein point shot past Chester andgive the Panthers the lead with just 3:02 left in the game.
With only dyingminutes left in the game, an odd incident occurred when Corey Petersoncross-checked Des Bast with the puck down to the ice, when a Peninsula fanhurled a full cup of coffee over the glass at the referee. The ref would dodgethe flying hot liquid and the play would continue as the coffee stain lay inthe middle of the Panthers’ defensive end.
TheWolves would pull the goalie with just over a minute left, but the Pantherswould hang onto the 5-4 victory on the road and increase their series lead to 3-1.Rylan Ball was great for the Panthers, and their fore-check as a unit wastremendous. The Wolves seemed to throw away the puck too often and miss openpasses. The Wolves must win every one of the next three games in order to comeback in this series, as Peninsula now has them on the ropes. Game five goesdown on Monday night in Peninsula, where the Wolves must find a way to win inorder to keep their playoff hopes alive. It was a great game by both teams, butthe Panthers fore-check and ability to capitalize on their opportunities wonthem the game. For the Wolves, it’s now do or die.