With Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) playoffs underway, the Peninsula Panthers rounded out the regular season by splitting their last two regular season games.
For owner and general manager Pete Zubersky, Friday’s win 5-3 over the Kerry Park Islanders and Monday’s 4-1 loss against the Saanich Predators is a matter of perspective.
“Over the past two weeks we have been sitting out a number of key guys each game and on Monday we sat our top (forwards) and four of our top six defencemen,” he said. “This allowed us to be rested and healthy going into the playoffs on Tuesday night, albeit, we gave up a couple wins in the win-loss column. But it only matters if you win your last game and not every game and so this is the route that our organization chose to go.”
Both games — both played at North Saanich’s Panorama Recreation Centre — were not without some significance though. Riley Braun, who entered Friday’s game as the league’s all-time scoring leader in the modern area (dating back to 1998) after having broken that record earlier this month, used Friday’s game to set a point record for a single season.
He tied the previous record of 118 points set by current Victoria Cougars Coach Brody Coulter in the first two periods with a goal and an assist, then broke it in the third period with an assist before adding another assist that same period to finish the regular season with 120 points.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel any different,” said Braun in an interview with Black Press Media on Sunday. While he thought it might sink in after the season, he said right now it feels like any other game. “I’m just so focused on playoffs and trying to win a championship that I am not really focused on the points right now. Obviously, when I look back, it will be really special, but right now, I feel I am a bit more focused on the team and winning some more games.”
Braun’s two linemates — Logan Speirs and brother Payton Braun — finished second and fifth in league scoring with 103 and 84 points respectively.
All three did not play in Monday’s final regular season game, during which the Panthers wore their third jersey before giving them away after the game as part of their annual appreciation of Peninsula Minor Hockey Association.
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