The head coach of the Peninsula Panthers called out his team after their 2-1 loss against their arch-rival Victoria Cougars Sunday afternoon, while also promising an improved performance when the teams meet again Friday.
“It was disappointing to say the least,” said Brad Tippett, head coach after the Panthers’ road loss. “You win as a team and lose as a team, but to be brutally honest, we had a few passengers up front today.”
Tippett said the Cougars showed more hustle during the first two periods of the game in wanting the puck more. “We simply seemed out of sync,” he said. “Passes were off, we missed the net, and we were just a little bit late all afternoon long.”
General manager Pete Zubersky struck a similar tone in his comments. While the Panthers have a “real talented squad,” the playoffs come down to grit and determination. “We have guys in our room who can be impactful without scoring goals or assists. And once again, winning comes down to playing simple hockey. I have said it a bunch of times in the past several weeks, we are not going to win 8-6 in the playoffs, we are going to win 3-2 or 2-1. Sunday was a great example.”
Early in the season, the team could win with only 10 to 12 players going hard, he said. “Now we need a lot more than that and in the playoffs we need every single guy,” he said. “We have guys that want to win. When any player on this team does not play to win, they let everyone in the organization down. It’s go time.”
The Panthers started off their weekend with 6-0 drubbing of the Kerry Park Islanders at Panorama Recreation Centre, with Riley Braun (three assists) and Josh Lingard (two goals) leading the way.
The Panthers then travelled to Esquimalt for their show-down against league-leading Cougars. Logan Speirs gave the Panthers an early first period lead, but the Cougars tied the game just before the first intermission. They then won the game in the second period on the way to out-shooting the Panthers 28-15 with Andrew Rocha taking the loss.
While Tippett also found some positives (including the team’s “excellent penalty kills” and “bend but not break” mentality on defence), he lamented the team’s sporadic forecheck and lack of physicality against the Cougars. “After saying that, we had more than enough chances to tie it up but did not cash in,” he said. “Now we play them in our building on Friday night. We need to get back to work in practice and we will be ready on Friday, that I know.”
Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game between the Panthers and the Cougars at Panorama Recreation Centre certainly holds promise as the Cougars lead the league with 69 points, followed by the second-placed Panthers with 64 points, having played one more than their rivals.