The Peninsula Panthers lead the overall standings of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) by five points after they extended their current winning streak to four with a pair of victories over the weekend.
Much of the credit falls to 19-year-old forward Tanner Wort, who had a hand in all of the seven goals that the Panthers scored in their victories against the Nanaimo Buccaneers and Kerry Park Islanders.
“Tanner Wort is on an absolute tear as of late,” said Pete Zubersky, the Panthers’ general manager. “He was in on all [seven] goals this weekend and really could have had another three or four. He had two clear cut breakaway opportunities where the puck didn’t go in and some others where he was robbed. Worty struggled a bit last season, but right now he is as dangerous as any kid in the VIJHL.” Wort ranks second in league scoring, one point behind teammate Riley Braun, on the strength of 16 goals and 17 assists.
The league’s leading scoring duo once again combined Friday as the Panthers beat the visiting Buccaneers 2-1 in overtime. Wort first rescued the Panthers into the extra frame when he scored the tying goal with 70 seconds left in the final period. Wort then started the sequence that led to the winning goal by Skyler Diamond-Burchuk by winning an offensive face-off onto the stick of Braun, who fed Diamond-Burchuk.
Wort then had his best night with the Panthers Sunday afternoon when he scored two and assisted three goals in the Panthers’ 5-3 victory against the Islanders. Linemate Braun added two goals and one assist in the victory, which pushed the Panthers’ current winning streak to four.
The victory also gave them some breathing room in the league’s penthouse as the Victoria Cougars lost 5-1 on the road against the Oceanside Generals, who led VIJHL’s northern division with 27 points. The Cougars rank second in the league as well as VIJHL’s southern division with 28 points, but have three games in hand.
Both teams resume action Thursday, with the Cougars hosting the Islanders and the Panthers travelling to Nanaimo, where Wort will look to continue his hot streak, while leading the team as an alternate captain.
“He wears an “A” for us and is a real leader, ” said Zubersky. “I’m thrilled for the kid and I hope he can keep it going.”
The Panthers return home Friday to host the Campbell River Storm. The pucks drops 7:30 p.m. at the Panorama Recreation Centre.
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