NORTH SAANICH — The Peninsula Panthers have had young teams for the last few seasons, always with an eye toward developing local talent.
The club’s work is paying off this season, as nine players from the North Saanich-based squad have been named to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s (VIJHL) Prospect Game.
The league says the annual Prospects Game features 42 rising stars in Island Junior B hockey will take to the ice in Campbell River on Jan. 7, in a North versus South matchup.
Listed on the South roster are the nine Panthers: forwards John Lingard, Tanner Wort, Marshall Brown, Matt Lawrence and Riley Braun, defencemen Shota Yamamoto, Skyler Diamond-Burchuk, Thomas Spink and goalie Bryce Schiebel.
Added to the alternate list (should any of those players not be able to hit the ice next month) are Panthers’ forward Carson Cox and goaltender Chris Akerman.
“We obviously have a young squad and a lot of prospects,” said Panthers’ General Manager Pete Zubersky in a statement. “… This is a nice gift for nine of our guys and I expect that we might just add one or two more players before all is said and done.”
“It’s a truly special experience for the players assembled from across the VIJHL who have the opportunity to showcase their skills before hundreds of the passionate hockey fans in Campbell River and the scouting staff in attendance,” said VIJHL President Barb Byrne on announcing the lineups this week.
For the full Prospect Game rosters of both North and South division teams, visit vijhl.com.
The coaching staff for the two teams will be assigned by Christmas.
Panthers’ Head Coach Brad Tippett noted the club is proud of all of its players.
“Our philosophy is to mold a tight knit group of players who want to get better individually and collectively every day,” Tippett said. “Each of our guys is deserving of being there. Night after night we call in them as “Go-To” players in critical situations — and they love it! It will be interesting to see how much they stack up when they playing against a whole team of players their same age.”
The 2018 VIJHL Prospects Game will be broadcast live on HockeyTV as the free VIJHL Game of the Week (https://vijhl.hockeytv.com).
The Panthers are taking a break over Christmas and return to the Panorama Recreation Centre Jan. 1 at 3:30 p.m. to host the Saanich Braves.
— News staff