Despite what will end up being a sub-par season on paper, the Port Moody Panthers are keeping their hopes up in the locker-room — and in the front office.
There are four new players on the roster after the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) trade deadline surpassed on Jan. 10 at 4 p.m.
- Kamren Kooner - defenceman
- Connor Nelles - forward
- Jobey Pearson - forward
- Matthew Shung - defenceman
Each player possesses a skill on the ice that caught the eye of the Panthers' brass and that general manager Brian Wiebe believes can bolster their roster with all eligible to return to the team in the fall.
However, one of the moves meant giving up top-scorer Ryan Tong to the Langley Trappers, who amassed 33 points in 29 games during his rookie tenure in Port Moody.
He's since committed to playing for the BCHL's Langley Rivermen for the 2022–23 campaign, which is also the time of year Wiebe is ensuring all preparations are considered in hopes of a turn-around.
"As much as we'd like there to be more wins over the final games of the season, right now the focus is on helping the players to continue to improve," he explained in an interview with the Tri-City News.
"There's no question the new additions help our depth, which has been ravaged by injuries this season. However, these final few weeks of this season are geared towards roster positioning for the 2022–23 season. That positioning will be determined by those players who put in the work and solid performance."
Wiebe adds with Tong's promotion to junior 'A' hockey, he believes it proves that Port Moody has prepared its athletes for a higher level.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The Panthers are currently on a 15-game losing streak with five contests left on the 2021–22 schedule. Their last win was Nov. 24 when Port Moody shut out Surrey 6–0 on the road.
While the skid may have likely put a damper on the players, Wiebe said the cats are still putting in 100 per cent each night in hopes of finishing the year on a winning note.
"A strong way to end the season will be our guys continuing to work hard, having a good attitude every time they come to the rink, and striving to improve."
The Panthers have five tilts left in the 2021–22 season.
First, they'll begin a four-game road trip to Mission (Jan. 29); Grandview (Jan. 30); Delta (Feb. 1); and White Rock (Feb. 5).
The final game of the year is set for Feb. 12, 7:45 p.m. at Port Moody Arena against the Mission City Outlaws.