Photo by Jody Harris
Richmond Sockeye Craig Schouten’s on-ice intelligence was on full display for scouts at the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s (PJHL) prospects game on Monday, Jan. 28.
Schouten, a right-winger, opened the scoring at the annual Junior ‘B’ showcase when he snapped home a rebound from outside of the crease. Three minutes into the third period, he sent another strong message when he finished a hard shoulder check at centre ice.
In front of 300 fans in Centennial Arena, the league’s best players were separated by their respective conferences, the Harold Brittain Conference, and the Tom Shaw Conference. In total, five Richmond Sockeyes played for the Shaw Conference: Schouten, Gabriel Suessenbacher-Fu, Isaac Alvarado, Marcus Pantazis, and Brady Sprague.
With two-and-a-half minutes left, Brittain prospect Ryan Denney streaked in on the left wing and roofed the puck for the game-winner in a 5-4 win. Another Brittain prospect, Mason Smith, from the Abbotsford Pilots, scored a hat trick.
Pantazis, the leading scorer for the Sockeyes with 44 points, was “pretty excited” to play.
“I was flattered that I was chosen,” he said.
He also acknowledged that it felt odd to play alongside the Delta Ice Hawks and other rival teams. “It’s definitely weird, but at the same time, it’s a good experience for all of us to play together.”
White Rock Whalers owner Ronnie Paterson appreciated that the PJHL players put on an entertaining game.
Paterson said that Sockeyes goalie Jeremy Kelleway—in attendance as a fan—was impressed that his fellow players were serious about playing well in front of scouts.
A former member of the Sockeyes ownership group, Paterson landed a PJHL expansion franchise, the White Rock Whalers, last year. He called the prospects game a special opportunity to “bring the rest of the league in” to Centennial Arena.