Panther Robson Scott (left) and the rest of his team found themselves at the wrong end of a 6-2 loss against the Saanich Predators Friday at North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre. The Panthers then lost their second straight game against the Predators 4-3 Sunday. (Christian J. Stewart Photography/Submitted)

Panther Robson Scott (left) and the rest of his team found themselves at the wrong end of a 6-2 loss against the Saanich Predators Friday at North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre. The Panthers then lost their second straight game against the Predators 4-3 Sunday. (Christian J. Stewart Photography/Submitted)

Peninsula Panthers speared not once but twice by Saanich Predators

Back-to-back losses against South Division rival leaves Panthers one point ahead of Predators for second

The Peninsula Panthers lost back-to-back games against their likely first-round opponent as the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) hits the stretch run.

The Panthers lost 6-2 on home ice, then 4-3 on the road against the Saanich Predators, who are now just one point behind the Panthers for second place in the South Division.

With the game tied 1-1 after the first period, the hosts conceded three goals in less than four minutes by the middle of the second period. Saanich’s fourth goal of that period also chased Panthers’ starting goalie Brad Kelly with his twin Mason taking over.

The Predators then scored two more in the final period. Matthew Seale and Sean Pandher respectively scored their second and third goals of the season. The Panthers’ power play also failed to score on five opportunities.

RELATED: Peninsula Panthers win 12th one-goal game of the season

Forty-eight hours later, the Panthers travelled south on the Pat Bay Highway for the return match. Ryan Grambart, who was without a goal in Friday’s game, scored a hattrick, including the game’s opening goal in the second period. But the Panthers’ lead lasted less than a minute as the Predators scored the next four goals to lead 4-1 with about eight minutes left in the game.

Grambart’s second and third goals of the night pulled the Panthers within one, but could not get the tying goal.

Owner and general manager Pete Zubersky said Friday’s home loss caused a lot of disappointment.

The Panthers will now have to re-group as they prepare to host the Oceanside Generals, last year’s losing VIJHL finalists to the Panthers, but already poised to make another deep run in the playoffs. They lead the league with 54 points — eight points better than the Panthers — and have lost just three times in regulation. Two losses were in overtime, two in the shootout.

Zubersky knows what lies ahead.

“We have a week of practice and then have in the VIJHL leading Oceanside Generals on Friday night which will be a real test for our squad,” he said. “We are looking for a big effort from our entire group and a strong performance between the pipes. Again, this is a good test against the league’s best.”

But Zubersky also has his eyes on other dates in the league schedule.

“We remain a point ahead of the Predators and in a couple of weeks will play another couple games against them, which will go a long way in determining where we both will land,” he said. “We have over a dozen games left in our regular Season but it seems to me that we will be going against each other in the first round of the playoffs and so these games are somewhat of a dress rehearsal.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich PeninsulaVIJHL