Peninsula Panthers co-owner Pete Zubersky is scratching his head after Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League schedule makers had the Panthers play the first game of the league final series just 20 hours after finishing off the Saanich Braves in the semis.
With the Panthers playing on tanks that were drained, the Cougars drew first blood and won easily by an 8-0 count.
“It was unfair,” Zubersky said. “We spoke up, but nobody would listen. It is a shame that we were forced to play with no rest while the Cougars sat on the sidelines for a week. It is a travesty.”
Trevor Yee is in his third stint with the Panthers, having played there as a 16-year-old before playing a season plus with the Braves. His minor penalty for slashing was one of the few incidental penalties by the Panthers on Sunday, who were called for kneeing, spearing and butt-ending among 20 minutes of penalties in the first period alone.
“We feel like last year is still in the back of [the Cougars’] minds,” Yee said. “But we have to stay really disciplined, we know they have that powerplay.”
At some point early in the game the Panthers became frustrated with the penalties going in the Cougars’ favour.
“We have to ignore the refs,” Yee said. “We can’t let [the refs] get in our heads like [Sunday]. One bad penalty and we were all over them.”
After trailing the Saanich Braves 3-1 in semifinals games, the Panthers looked elimination in the eye before coming away the winners.
On Friday Yee led scoring with three tallies in handing the Braves an 8-5 beating and setting the stage for Game 7 the following day in Saanich.
And what a game it would be. Super-sniper Joe Densmore scored twice before the second frame had ended and the teams went to the dressing room tied. With a little more than five minutes left in the second overtime period, the Panthers’ Ryan Hunter scored from close in to lift the team into the VIJHL finals.
Zubersky said the Panthers’ break until the next game, Thursday, is a welcome one.
“We have a couple days to rest so the ice will be a bit more even on Thursday for Game 2, you can count on that. This is not the way to showcase our league at this time of year. This is the league finals, this was not right.”
Did you know?
Brent Patterson passed away while playing for the Saanich Braves in the 1978 junior B provincial tournament.
The Cougars expect Colin Minardi and Josh Wyatt back from injury for Game 2 on Thursday.
VIJHL Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy sked
GAME 1: March 18, Panthers 0 Cougars 8
GAME 2: March 22, 7:15 p.m. at Archie Browning Sports Centre
GAME 3: March 23, 7:30 p.m. at Panorama Recreation Centre
GAME 4: March 24, 6:30 p.m. at Panorama