The Peninsula Panthers are playing their best hockey of the season as they just reached the halfway mark in their 48-game schedule.
And the timing could not be better as they prepare to welcome in the visiting Saanich Braves for a rare Saturday night affair.
Due to another event taking over the Panorama on Friday night, the Panthers’ home game was moved to Saturday however it is shaping up to be a big one for both the Braves and the “Cats” from the Peninsula.
“We play in Saanich on Friday and then back at home on Saturday night,” said Panthers’ GM Pete Zubersky.
“We have really been playing well as of late and everyone is chipping in. I think this is one of the most balanced teams we have fielded and when all four lines are going, we have something special.”
This past weekend, the Panthers (11-12) knocked off the visiting Westshore Wolves (14-9) on Friday night before bowing to the Oceanside Generals (10-13), 4-3 on Saturday up in Parksville.
The Generals avenged a 4-3 loss to the Panthers on the Monday night before (Nov. 20).
“We played well enough to beat the Generals and a win on Saturday would have given us four games in a row,” said Zubersky. “These games against the Braves (10-13) are huge. There is a real logjam in the South Division standings and we are hoping that we are the ones that can put up a string of wins in a row and break away from the pack.”
Tanner Wort scored a couple goals in the win against the Wolves while Marshall Brown, Cianan Briscoe and Matt Lawrence added a marker each. Netminder Chris Akerman blocked 35 of 37 shots and collected the win. Wort, Brown and Akerman were selected as the three stars on the night.
The Panthers were set to host the Victoria Cougars on Tuesday evening, well past the PNR’s press deadline on Monday. With a win on Tuesday, the local squad would have moved into second place in the South Division, jumping over those same Victoria Cougars (12-10).
The VIJHL has never seen such parity, Zubersky noted, adding he expects more of the same in the weeks to come.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening at Panorama Recreation Centre.
— with files from the Peninsula