Panthers’ goalie Brayden Evans looks for the puck during Friday’s 3-1 loss against the Victoria Cougars at Panorama Recreation Centre. Evans stopped 34 out of 37 shots during what was the final of 10 games against the Cougars. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)

Panthers’ goalie Brayden Evans looks for the puck during Friday’s 3-1 loss against the Victoria Cougars at Panorama Recreation Centre. Evans stopped 34 out of 37 shots during what was the final of 10 games against the Cougars. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)

Peninsula Panthers finish cohort series against Victoria Cougars with sixth straight loss

Panthers hockey club now faces Kerry Park Islanders for 14 games in 31 days

Peninsula Panthers players are glad to have seen the last of the Victoria Cougars for a while, but also hope to get another look at them in the playoffs.

The local Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) team wrapped its series of 10 games against rival Victoria Cougars with a record of two wins and eight losses, having lost six straight games. The Panthers suffered their two most recent losses last week, losing 6-3 Thursday, then 3-1 Friday.

While the two teams were undeniably the best the VIJHL offered during last year’s pandemic-shortened season, the Panthers found themselves on the losing end more often not against one of the best teams in the province, according to Pete Zubersky, the Panthers’ general manager.

“[The Cougars] might not lose another game all season,” he said. “We were banged up for almost all of those games and the injuries were almost entirely on defence and that just killed us. And [forward] Josh Lingard who is in any discussion as the best player in our league was out for a protracted period of time as well.”

RELATED: Peninsula Panthers’ losing streak reaches four games as injuries mount

The Panthers’ rash of injuries placed the spotlight on the team’s 13 rookies that played during the 10 games against the Cougars with decidedly mixed results.

“At times they played great, at other times I thought they were timid,” said Zubersky.

This said, Zubersky also sees the potential in hoping for an extended rematch against the Cougars. “The next time we could meet again would be in the playoffs in March,” he said. “I hope it happens as a lot of water will have gone under the bridge and our young kids should be hardened. This was a great way for them to start their careers. A lot of lessons were learned in the past ten games.”

The Panthers will have two weeks off, then play their next 14 games in 31 days against the Kerry Park Islanders before taking another break just before Christmas.

“The Islanders have been winning games so our guys are all looking forward to seeing what they have,” said Zubersky of the Islanders, whose record of four wins and five losses places ahead of the Panthers, who sit in the basement of VIJHL’s South Division. “It’s been a crazy season and it’s something I hope we will never see again but also something that I will never forget. It’s been quite a journey so far.”

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