Photo by Don Fennell
After starting the season undefeated in September, the Richmond Sockeyes as expected came back to earth.
But one of the youngest teams in the Pacific Junior Hockey League is still in the thick of things as we head into a new calendar year.
Trying to defend a provincial championship is no easy feat, particularly when you lose most of the team to graduation. But despite their youth, the 2018-19 Sockeyes are turning more than a few heads with their play.
“It doesn’t come easy,” says head coach Brett Reusch. “A lot of players want to play Junior A, and while wins and losses (Sockeyes are currently 17-7-2-1) are important there’s more to it. At the end of the day we, as the Sockeyes, like to measure how many players we put up to the next level.”
When Reusch and general manager Richard Petrowsky were deciding the makeup of this year’s team, there were many things to consider. Replacing talented players was difficult enough. But adding individuals with strong character was equally important.
“I think we have the mix to make a good playoff run,” says Reusch. “They’ve also been good about accepting roles (for the good of the team). Scoring goals is nice, but players also have to realize that not everyone can play the powerplay. And preventing goals is just as important as being a goal scorer.”
Captain Matt Brown, one of the few returning players from the 2018 Cyclone Taylor Cup champions, says every year is different because of the developmental nature of the league. But he says seeing the Sockeyes bring in such quality young players confirms “what an unbelievable organization we have here.”
“At the end of the day, with such a young team, it all comes down to buying in as a group,” Brown says. “This team has really come together, regardless of how many years they’ve played in the league.”
Obviously, one of the big contributors to the Sockeyes’ success has been goaltender Jeremy Kelleway whose 1.95 goals against average is among the best in the league.
“The confidence Jeremy gives us night in and night out has been that extra boost we’ve needed in some of those close game,” says Brown.
• The Sockeyes are scheduled to play at Langley on Dec. 12 and host Mission City Outlaws on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at Minoru Arenas. Their remaining games in December are Dec. 20 versus Port Moody Panthers at 7 p.m. at Minoru, and Dec. 23 versus Grandview Steelers at Burnaby Winter Club.