The Peninsula Panthers will have a chance to win the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League championship at Panorama Recreation Centre Monday.
Two goals by Logan Speirs powered the Panthers to a 2-1 victory over their opponents in Game 3, for the team’s third win in a row. With a victory Monday, the Panthers would sweep the Generals to claim their first league championship since back to back titles in 2010 and 2011.
The Panthers won the opening game of the series against the Generals 2-1 Wednesday, before beating them 6-1 Friday at home. Heading into Game 3, Panthers’ owner and general Pete Zubersky said Oceanside would look to get back into the series, but it was the Panthers who drew first blood with Speirs scoring halfway through the opening period to put the visitors ahead.
Greyson Weme tied the game just before the mid-way points for the hosts, who played in front of 900-plus fans. But like last week, they saw the visitors walk away with a narrow victory, when Speirs broke the tie with less than eight minutes left.
Brad Kelly continued his good form in net for the Panthers, stopping 20 out of 21 shots, while his counterpart Ashton Sadauskas stopped 33 out of 35 shots before leaving the ice with less than one minute left to give the Generals an extra attacker.
But the Generals could not find an equalizer to force overtime, leaving the Panthers on the verge of claiming the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League title during an emotional season. Their long-time photographer Gordon Lee died in October 2021. As the season progressed, the Panthers improved steadily and reeled off winning streaks of seven and eight games respectively, only to see their teammate Grant Gilbertson die in a car crash on Jan. 3.
Players said at the time that their goal was to win the championship in his name and Monday’s game offers the first chance to fulfill that promise.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre.
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