NORTH SAANICH — The Peninsula Panthers have won three of their last four hockey games and as they head into the Christmas Break there appears to be a lot of blue sky ahead.
The Club bounced the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 7-1 at home and then dropped a thriller at the Panorama Recreation Centre 4-2 in a Sunday afternoon affair tabbed as the annual Peninsula Minor Hockey Appreciation Game.
On Friday night Marshall Brown and Riley Braun lead the way, each scoring twice while singles were added by Ty Hermsen, newcomer Nolan Lee and Matt Lawrence. Goaltender Chris Akerman blocked 21 of 22 shots in picking up the win.
Sunday was a nail biter from the drop of the puck. The Panthers held 1-0 and 2-1 leads until over midway through the second frame on goals by Joe Stafford-Veale and Josh Lingard. But the Campbell River Storm had a relentless attack and eventually they took the lead before the second period was over, a lead that they would not relinquish.
The two Clubs came out for the final stanza with the score at 3-2 in favour of the visitors and although both teams had opportunities, the Storm’s Pearce Messer managed to score the insurance marker with only 59 seconds left in the game to put the nail in the coffin. Akerman absorbed the loss but managed to stop 29 of 33 markers.
Perhaps the highlights were away from the game on Sunday.
Derek Turnbull, who played for the Panthers from 1999 to 2004 died following a battle with cancer in June, was honoured before the game during an on-ice ceremony. His wife Melissa and their two children, Noah and Heidi, joined Panthers’ General Manager Pete Zubersky, and former Panthers’ players Palmer Hepburn and Kristian Hodge. The two had played with Derek. Marianne Arsenault, a friend of Melissa’s, spoke and discussed an initiative with PMHA to have a perpetual trophy in honour of the fallen Panthers player. Noah fittingly was the Peninsula McDonald’s Player of the Week.
The Panthers’ players signed autographs for the youngsters in attendance during the first intermission and the Peninsula Initiation Program players hit the ice during the second intermission for a short mini-game. After the final buzzer sounded the players gathered around centre ice and joined in on the traditional gifting of the third jersey, which had been worn during the game. PMHA players and fans came down as their names were called and it capped off a great way to hit the Christmas break.
The Panthers will be back at it when they host the Saanich Braves on New Year’s Day for an afternoon game at 3:30 p.m. at the Panorama Recreation Centre.
— News Staff