Photo by Chung Chow
The Richmond Sockeyes knew quite some time ago they’d likely be facing the North Vancouver Wolf Pack in the opening round of the playoffs. Now that it’s official, both teams are anxious for the games to begin.
That will start this Thursday (Feb. 15) when the Sockeyes host the Wolf Pack at 7 p.m. at Minoru Arenas.
“North Van will be a strong competitor, (but) I believe our team is as ready as we possibly can be,” says Sockeye alumnus Doug Paterson.
Paterson says the club set out this season to be in the top four in the province.
“We have balanced scoring on all four lines, and (goaltender Jacob) Latrace has demonstrated he can be a No. 1, and Hardy (Hardarshan Hoonjan) very capable to back up. And our defence is strong.”
On paper, at least, the first-round series has all the makings of a classic. But rarely do these kind of things go according to script.
While Richmond finished 12 points ahead of North Vancouver in the regular-season standings, three of the four meetings between the teams went to overtime.
Richmond sported the third-best penalty killing average (just over 85 per cent) in the league, while North Vancouver was fourth-best, killing off an average of just over 83 per cent of its penalties.
Then there are the two captains, Richmond’s Tyler Andrews and North Vancouver’s Mitch Ledyard. Both centres, they were also both among the top-10 scorers in the league during the regular season. Andrews averaged nearly two points a game, while Ledyard averaged just under 1.5 points per game.
Following Thursday’s playoff opener, the remaining games in the first-round playoff series are scheduled as follows:
Game 2 Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at Harry Jerome Rec Centre; Game 3 Monday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Minoru Arenas; and Game 4 Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Karen Magnussen Arena. If needed, Game 5 will be played Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at Minoru Arenas; Game 6 Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Harry Jerome Rec Centre; and Game 7 Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Minoru Arenas.
SEASON SERIES RECAP
• Sept. 7 Sockeyes 6 Wolf Pack 5 OT at Minoru
Captain Tyler Andrews led by example in the opening game of the season.
The Sockeyes’ forward scored back-to-back goals midway through the third period, and set up first star Nicolas Bizzutto for the equalizer and winner as Richmond rallied from a 5-2 deficit after 40 minutes. Winning goalie Jacob Latrace made 14 saves, and also got in on the scoring, passing the puck up to Tyler Paterson on the game’s opening goal at 2:25 of the first period.
• Oct. 14 Sockeyes 6 Wolf Pack 5 OT at Harry Jerome Rec Centre
North Vancouver got an early lead and went 4-for-8 on the powerplay, but couldn’t hold off another Richmond rally.
After being outscored 4-1 in the opening period, the Sockeyes scored the only two goals of the middle frame including a shorthanded tally by captain Tyler Andrews, who also earned a pair of assists in the game. Braeden Gurney forced overtime with a goal at 14:36 of the third period, before Brett Gelz scored the winning goal at 1:41 of the extra frame to complete a hat trick.
Rookie goaltender Hardarshan Hoonjan stopped 18 of 19 shots, after coming on in relief of starter Evan McCune.
• Nov. 9 Wolf Pack 2 Sockeyes 1 OT at Minoru Arenas
The third meeting of the season between Richmond and North Vancouver resulted in, you guessed it, another overtime. But this time, the Wolf Pack prevailed.
Though Richmond outshot North Vancouver 35-24 in the game, the latter got a pair of goals from Mitch Ledyard (the equalizer late in the third period and the winner 35 seconds into OT) to earn the two points.
• Feb. 3 Sockeyes 8 Wolf Pack 0 at Harry Jerome Rec Centre
Richmond outshot North Vancouver 37-13, and scored early and often, to win the final regular-season game between the two teams.
Once again, Sockeyes’ captain Tyler Andrews led the way giving Richmond a 2-0 lead with goals at 10 seconds and again at 3:26 of the first period.
Jacob Latrace earned the shutout.