Photo by Don Fennell
Every year, since debuting as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016, the Pacific Junior Hockey League has hosted a Winter Classic. The three-day event is an opportunity for the 12 teams to showcase their wealth of talented players to coaches and scouts from Junior A, Major Junior and university programs.
Last year, the Richmond Sockeyes, which annually host the in-league competition won both their games during the Winter Classic and went on to net the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial Junior B championship. They’d love nothing more than to repeat the feat, using the Winter Classic Jan. 4 to 6 at Minoru Arenas to help springboard them forward.
After a torrid start to the 2018-19 season, the Sockeyes—a team loaded with first-year juniors—has settled down and currently sits third in the Tom Shaw Conference with a 19-7-2-1 record. While those numbers are impressive, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack and Delta Ice Hawks (who opposed the Sockeyes in last year’s provincial final) boast even more impressive stats. The Wolf Pack sport a league-best 52 points (26-6-0), while the Ice Hawks are second with 45 points (20-6-2-3).
Delta went 1-1 at the 2018 Winter Classic, losing 2-1 in overtime to North Vancouver. Grandview Steelers, Langley Trappers, Mission City Outlaws and Aldergrove Kodiaks all went 1-1, while Surrey Knights, Ridge Meadows Flames, Abbotsford Pilots and Port Moody Panthers were 0-2.
This year, the expansion White Rock Whalers (11-17-0-2) will be part of the action. The first-year club is scheduled to face North Vancouver Saturday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. and Port Moody at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 6.
The remaining schedule is as follows:
Friday, Jan. 4:
10 a.m., Ridge Meadows vs. Langley
1 p.m., Surrey vs. Mission City
4 p.m., Port Moody vs. North Vancouver
7 p.m., Richmond vs. Abbotsford
Saturday, Jan. 5:
10 a.m., Mission vs. Grandview
4 p.m., Abbotsford vs. Ridge Meadows
7 p.m., Delta vs. Aldergrove
Sunday, Jan. 6:
1 p.m., Grandview vs. Surrey
4 p.m., Langley vs. Delta
7 p.m., Aldergrove vs. Richmond