If the Peninsula Panthers’ recent winning streak were a movie, it might be called ‘8 1/2 Weeks.’
The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team failed to extend their winning streak to eight games Friday night when they lost to the Oceanside Generals 4-3 on home ice in a shootout that still left them with one of two possible points. The Panthers then won their next game, beating the Kerry Park Islanders 4-1 Saturday.
Payton Braun led the Panthers over the weekend with a hattrick against the Generals and two goals against the Islanders to increase his goal total for the season to 25, top in the league. His 30 assists give him a total of 55 points, third in overall league scoring and two points behind teammate Logan Speirs with 21 goals and 36 assists. Payton’s brother Riley, meanwhile, continues to lead the league in overall scoring with 24 goals and 42 assists for a total of 66 points.
Continued personal success for the Panthers has translated into team success for general manager and owner Pete Zubersky. “The (team) is really playing well right now and have captured 17 of a possible 18 points over the last nine games,” he said. Three tests lie ahead though, he added, as the Panthers will first play the Victoria Cougars on the road Thursday, then play Westshore Wolves at home, before capping off the weekend with a road game in Lake Cowichan.
“We have put ourselves within striking distance of the Cougars and every game, every point is important from here until our Christmas break,” said Zubersky. “I would love nothing more than being within three or four points at the break and then come back with fire in our belly. We have finally figured out our goaltending with both (Ashton) Lukan and (Brady) Kelly pushing each other for minutes. The internal competition has made both of them better and this development has been significant in our performance as of late.”
The Peninsula Panthers’ next home is Friday, Dec. 3. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre.
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