Panthers Lucas Thomson-Fiddes (#16) and Stefan Grunert (#5) both played gritty games, with Thomson-Fiddes scoring twice, as the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) opened its playoff series against the Westshore Wolves with a 5-2 victory. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)

Peninsula Panthers pounce on Westshore Wolves during opening game of playoffs

Panthers look to increase their lead to two games in best-of-seven series Wednesday

The Peninsula Panthers head into the second game of their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) playoff round against the Westshore Wolves with all of the momentum.

The Panthers head into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at the Q Centre in Colwood up one game to none after beating the Wolves 5-2 Monday at the Panorama Recreation Centre.

Four unanswered goals in the second period erased some early penalty problems that allowed the visitors from the Westshore to lead 1-0 after the first period.

Luc Pelletier 33 seconds into the second frame, Thomas Spink at 8:30, 16-year-old Lucas Thomson-Fiddes at 11:43 and Tanner Wort with 49 seconds remaining in the period gave the Cats a 4-1 lead heading to the final period, where Thomson-Fiddes rounded out the scoring for the Panthers. A late Wolves goal by Tory McClintick with some two minutes remaining in the game turned out to be cosmetic.

RELATED: Panthers wrap up regular season with playoff preview

Head coach Brad Tippett praised the team’s focus and resilience during the opening period, especially after the Wolves scored an early power-play goal following a penalty against Pelletier 27 seconds into the game. The visitors could have upped their lead minutes later, when the Panthers conceded a bench penalty, but winning goalie Connor McKillop prevented worse. The Panthers also had reasons to feel frustrated later in the period after the referee waived off what would have been the tying goal.

“The first few minutes certainly didn’t go as planned,” said Tippett. “We regrouped and began pushing the agenda. Our goal that was disallowed near the end of the first period just added to the determination.”

Pelletier’s goal early in the second period only stoked this fire as the Panthers overwhelmed with Wolves with a balanced effort.

“We got goals from all four lines and one from the defence,” he said. “As the game wore on, there were some bad feelings created out of frustration — some of which were not even directed at the other team. Game 2 is Wednesday. We have to stayed focused strictly on the task at hand.”

Monday’s victory marked the second victory in as many games against the Wolves. The two teams had also met Friday night as the Panthers routed the Wolves 5-1 in a game that now appears as a preview for Monday’s more meaningful playoff game. The Panthers will now look to continue their streak against the Wolves before returning home for Game 3 Friday with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m.

The winner of the best-of-seven series faces the winner of series between the Victoria Cougars and Saanich Braves for the chance to play for the league championship.


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