VIJHL prospect finds the net in New Year’s loss

Skyler Diamond-Burchuk will be heading to the VIJHL Prospects game on Sunday afternoon in Campbell River.

The skilled and smooth skating defenceman from the Peninsula Panthers is one of the leading point-getters from the back end in the entire League, but it took until New Year’s Day for him to find the back of the net.

Diamond-Burchuk is known for his unselfish and creative play and up until Jan. 1 of his points had come by assist.

That changed with only three minutes remaining in the game against the Saanich Braves.

Down 4-1 and on the power play with goaltender Chris Akerman pulled for the extra attacker, Riley Braun moved the puck to Diamond-Burchuk and he wasted no time blowing a snapshot from the top of the circles past Braves’ netminder Chris Combiadakis.

But the Braves scored the insurance marker into an empty Panthers’ net with only seconds left and that sent fans to the exits.

Braun scored the only other Panthers’ goal late in the second frame on a power play goal coming on helpers from Josh Lingard and Nolan Lee.

Combiadakis outplayed Akerman stopping 28 of 30 shots directed his way while Akerman was good on 20 of 24.

“We must have had a little too much turkey over the holidays,” explained general manager Pete Zubersky.

“We came out slowly and wasted the first 20 minutes of the game. I thought it might have been our worst period of the year. Akerman let in two that he would probably like to take back and we were in a deep hole for most of the game.” he said.

“I thought we woke up and outplayed Saanich for the final 40 minutes but Combiadakis did a really nice job between the pipes for them. Akerman is going to have to carry the ball for the next month due to an injury to our other netminder and he needs to step up. We are at a crucial point in our schedule and Chris has to embrace this situation as a fantastic opportunity.”

Akerman and his mates will host the Victoria Cougars Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre with the puck set to drop at 7:30 p.m.

– Submitted

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