The Peninsula Panthers restored the team’s lead in the playoff series against the Westshore Wolves with a gritty 2-1 home victory that included a penalty-filled second period.
Head coach Brad Tippett said the series has been as intense as predicted. “In [the first game] I thought we pushed the agenda allowing us to take a lead in the series,” he said. “In [the second game] they were hungrier than we were and evened up the series.”
Tippett said the question of winning hinges on whichever team is willing to pay the price. “Little things like blocking shots, finishing all checks, and managing the puck at critical times during the game are crucial,” he said.
“In [the third game], I thought we really bounced back on all metrics. We have to build on Friday’s game and clean up some needless penalties.”
Both teams combined for 20 penalties during Friday’s game, with a total of 12 penalties in the second period, with seven coming at the very end of the period, with five of those going against the visitors, who dominated the period, out-shooting the Panthers 12-5.
But it was the Panthers, who entered the third period with a 1-o lead after the their top line of Josh Lingard, Tanner Wort and Riley Braun combined, with Lingard netting his first goal of the playoffs. Lingard and Braun then fed Denver Maloney early in the third period as the Panthers scored on the power-play to give themselves some breathing room.
The Wolves, however, made things interesting towards the end as Lach Hadley scored with 79 seconds left.
But the visitors did not find an equalizers as Connor McKillop stopped 21 out of 22 shots.
The two sides return to the ice Wednesday night in Colwood when the Wolves host the Panthers at The Q Centre. Looking at the overall series, it has become increasingly tighter.
While the Panthers won the opening game by three goals, the Wolves used an improved performance last week to win by two goals in tying the series. Friday’s game was even tighter.
General manager Pete Zubersky said the Panthers will have to scratch and claw for everything they can get if their 2-1 “heart-stopping” victory offers any indication. “This series is clearly not for the faint of heart,” he said.
Following Wednesday’s game, the two teams return to North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre Friday for Game 5.
Elsewhere in the South Division of the Vancouver Junior Hockey League, the Victoria Cougars are one victory away from sweeping the Saanich Braves, who must surely feel frustrated by their lack of results. The Braves have lost their three games by a grand total of four goals.
Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner