The Peninsula Panthers are on to the next round of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs, after beating Westshore Wolves 4-2 in game 6 on Wednesday to capture the series four games to two.
The Panthers open the second round this Saturday in Mill Bay against the Kerry Park Islanders, who finished off an upset 4-0 sweep of South Division winner Victoria Cougars with a 5-3 win on Tuesday.
Riley Braun led the Panthers’ attack in the series clincher at The Q Centre in Colwood. He scored twice and set up two more goals in a game that rather mirrored the series, with the Panthers taking an early lead, the Wolves recovering and Peninsula regaining the momentum.
Braun’s first goal made it 1-0 after the first period, but the Wolves responded in the second with goals from Jack Westhaver and Blake Bentham to grab a 2-1 lead.
The Panthers’ top line combined on the equalizer late in the second, with Logan Speirs and Braun setting up Payton Braun for the 2-2 goal with 34 seconds left.
Kyle Brown pushed the Panthers into the lead less than four minutes into the third on the power play, then Riley Braun added an insurance marker, converting a Speirs pass to make it 4-2 at the 13:19 mark. Peninsula goalie Ashton Lukan stopped all eight shots he faced in the third and 33 overall for the game.
Monday’s game 5, as it often does in best-of-seven series, proved a turning point in the Panthers’ advance.
Late in the third period at the Panorama Recreation Centre, the Panthers found themselves less than a minute away from taking a 3-2 series lead. But with 43 seconds left, the Wolves’ Isaac Leik made it 2-2 with goalie Jacob Haydar pulled for an extra attacker, pushing the game into the lottery that is overtime.
After the first overtime period settled nothing, Speirs notched the game winner 4:19 into the second OT period.
After game 1 at Kerry Park, the Panthers host games 2 and 3 next Monday and Friday (March 7 and 11). All game times are 7:30 p.m.
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