Cody Allison, Logan Gibson and Ryan Hunter have carved new roles for themselves as instrumental players in the Panthers’ post-season success so far.
Allison and Hunter each scored once in the series, while Gibson has chipped in with one helper, but it is not their offence that is being counted on, rather their ability to eat up valuable minutes to allow the top-six forwards to shine.
At press time the Panthers had a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series against the Oceanside Generals, having won each of the first three games in round one of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Last Wednesday in Oceanside, the Panthers opened the series nudging the Generals by a 6-5 count.
On Friday, Feb. 24, in front of a huge playoff crowd at Panorama Recreation Centre, they again managed to come out on top, winning 4-3. Josh Bloomenthal, Chris McDonald, Joe Densmore and Allison scored for the Cats, while veteran goaltender Kyler Stern was stellar in the win blocking 30 of 33 shots directed his way.
The following night the Panthers ventured once again into the unfriendly confines of Oceanside Place and came out on top in yet another nail-biter, this time 3-1. The game was still in doubt late in the third period.
With the Panthers clinging to a 2-1 lead with less than a minute remaining and the Generals goaltender on the bench for the extra attacker, 20-year-old Trevor Yee ripped a long shot that found nothing but net, leaving the Generals in a do-or-die situation. David Stephens and Dane Gibson were the other Panthers marksmen while midget call-up Stephen Heslop was outstanding between the pipes blocking all but one of the 35 shots he faced.
“Allison and Gibson have been really good on the penalty kill, sacrificing their bodies to get into shot lanes, taking short shifts, not trying to do too much,” said owner Pete Zubersky. “Hunter … I think it finally clicked and now he is using the body, getting pucks out and really contributing to the club. Our best players still have to be our best players but without role players doing the job they are counted on to do, there is absolutely no way we can win. I thought Saturday night in Oceanside was perhaps our best team game of the year – guys are really starting to buy in.”
The Panthers played Oceanside Monday evening and lost 7-2. The two teams will face off again tonight (Feb. 28) at Oceanside Place in Parksville.
Visit www.ppanthers.bc.ca for playoff dates and times.