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The Westshore Wolves are carving out space for themselves in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League standings as the alpha team in the South Division; leading a pack of four other teams.
With 27 points in 22 games played, they lead the Saanich Braves by eight points. The Victoria Cougars are a point back of Saanich, while the Kerry Park Islanders and Peninsula Panthers are tied at 17. It’s a tight race.
“I think the difference from this year to last year is player maturity. We have a lot of returning players that were rookies last year and it helps to have a year or two under your belt playing junior hockey. Confidence is a very big factor for any player in any sport and the Wolves are riding some confidence right now,” Said Coach Tyler Matheson.
The Wolves are coming off back-to-back wins over the Cougars and Panthers.
“As a team, we are happy to start pulling away from the pack in the south a bit but we can’t be satisfied. We are in a strong division and it’s still really tight. We just need to worry about ourselves and what we can control and that is showing up to the rink to work hard and outplay every opponent.”
They defeated the Cougars by the score of 5-2 on Sunday night. Wednesday at home, they were visited by the Panthers and defeated them by the score of 5-3 to put breathing room between themselves and the four other teams in the division that are in a near virtual four-way tie.
Cameron Coutre and Brandon Tutte each earned seven points in those two games, five on Wednesday, to pace the Wolves offence. The Wolves took 37 and 35 shots respectively, outshooting their opponents in both games, while the powerplay was effective going a total of 4/15, firing at a rate of 26.6%.
“At the start of the season, our power plays was the worst in the league. The team is finally coming together and taking a lot of pride in our special teams and really turning it around.”
Liam Tupper was in goal for both games for the Wolves.
Thursday, the Wolves have a test in Nanaimo against the Buccaneers, who dominated the first 15 games of the season going 7-1 during September, 7-0 in October but have since gone 2-3 in November with a 4-0 shutout loss to Saanich on Fri. Nov 10 and an 8-4 shellacking by their division rivals Campbell River on Thursday, Nov. 2.
They let the first-place position slip by as the Campbell River Storm blew past with a combination of a Storm win and a Buccaneers loss Sunday and Friday nights respectively.
The Buccaneers will be looking to regain top spot in the north as they have one game in-hand over the Storm.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 pm tonight.
Meanwhile, the Oceanside Generals (Parksville) pay a visit to the Victoria Cougars at Archie Browning Arena. The Cougars have four games in-hand over the Saanich Braves, who are just one point ahead.
Tonight’s 7:00 pm puck drop in Esquimalt will give the Cougars an opportunity to leapfrog the Braves. They go at it again on Friday in Saanich at 6:30 pm, for a possible four-pointer.