The Peninsula Panthers play in the Southern Division of the 9-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Divisional opponents include the Kerry Park Islanders, Saanich Braves, Victoria Cougars and the Westshore Wolves while the Northern Division is comprised of the Campbell River Storm, Comox Valley Glacier Kings, Nanaimo Buccaneers and the Oceanside Generals. The club plays out of the Panorama Recreation Centre which is located at 1885 Forest Park Drive in North Saanich, B.C., only minutes drive from Sidney, B.C. and minutes from the Victoria International Airport and British Columbia Ferries.
Our Mission Statement:
The Peninsula Panthers aim to create a positive and competitive surroundings in which players can develop physically and emotionally in a safe and healthy environment. We will continue to develop and nurture partnerships which are the lifeline of the club including but not limited to the Peninsula Minor Hockey Association, Businesses on the Peninsula and in Greater Victoria, and the Greater Community on the Peninsula. We will strive to develop hockey players and staff in an effort to move both groups to the next level.
This mission will be a realistic goal and will be greatly assisted with the support of you, Our Fans!
In 1996 the Esquimalt Pythons played their inaugural season at the Naval Base in Esquimalt however after one season it was relocated to the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich and purchased by Mark Wagstaff who renamed the team the Peninsula Panthers. In the summer of 1999, Pete and Coreen Zubersky purchased the team from Wagstaff and changed the vision from an organization that was comprised of 19 and 20-year-old players to that of a development team with a goal of moving players to the next level and beyond. During the 1999 season the Panthers had twelve 16-year-old players on their opening day roster and once again the Panthers are driven by this same vision. The Zubersky's sold the team to John and Val Wilson at the end of the 2007 season and the Wilson's continued along the same path that the Zubersky's had initiated eight years earlier. The Wilson's in turn sold the franchise to Jackson and Charity Penney at the end of the 2009 season. Although the team had some of its best years on the ice, it had off-ice struggles and was subsequently turned back to the VIJHL during the fall of 2012. Zubersky's and Wilson's teamed together to come back into the League and repurchased the squad as it was in danger of being folded by the VIJHL Governors. The ship has been righted and ownership is well on its way to having the club back to the proud level it once attained, being the flagship franchise of the League.
In keeping with the theme of developing young players, the Panthers boast many that have passed through the system and moved to higher levels. Perhaps the most notable is Jamie Benn who led the Panthers in scoring during the 2005/06 season capturing the team and VIJHL Rookie of the Year in the process. Jamie also was selected as the Panthers' Community Leadership Award winner - he was a 16-year-old at the time. Benn is currently playing for the Dallas Stars and is an odds on favorite to be selected to the next Canadian Olympic team. He won gold as a member of the Canadian World Junior Squad several years ago. His older brother Jordie played for the Panthers in 2004/05 and captured the Community Leadership and Best Defenceman awards as a 17-year-old. He played in Texas in the AHL and played up with the Dallas Stars several times this season and is expected to crack the Stars lineup for the upcoming 2012/13 season. Ryan O'Byrne toiled for the Panthers in 2000/01 and the big rangy defenceman was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played several years with that organization before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche where he still plays today. Kyle Greentree has played games in the NHL for the Hawks and Flames and has had a career in the AHL. Taylor Ellington, Greg Scott, Mike Hamilton, Spencer Carbery, Craig Zubersky, Lance Morrison, Danny LaPointe and Bryan Bridges have all played in the AHL or the ECHL. After his playing career Carbery was at one point the youngest Coach in the ECHL. Many Panthers alumni have gone on to NCAA Scholarships and too many to count have moved on to Major Junior, Junior A, NCAA Division 3 and elsewhere.
#14 Jamie Benn - Forward
Peninsula Panthers 2005-06
Current Team: Dallas Stars N.H.L.
#58 Jordie Benn - Defence
Peninsula Panthers 2004-05
Current Team: Dallas Stars N.H.L.