Photo by Chung Chow
The playoffs are called The Second Season for good reason. They really are.
While hockey teams battle through a long regular-season schedule in hopes of qualifying for the playoffs, the results in the post-season tournament are determined by the very same things that account for a team’s standing heading in—talent, teamwork, injuries, luck and momentum. Or lack of.
The first round of the 2019 Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs reflects this.
Finishing 15 points ahead of the Grandview Steelers in the regular season, Richmond Sockeyes find themselves trailing the Steelers two games to one heading into games four and five in the best-of-seven series 7 p.m. Wednesday at Burnaby Winter Club and 7 p.m. Thursday at Minoru Arenas.
As expected, both goaltenders (Jeremy Kelleway for the Sockeyes and Cale Dolan for the Steelers) have been prevalent through the first three games. Though five shots got past him in a 5-4 overtime loss in the opening game Feb. 14, Kelleway still made 40 saves. Dolan made 28 saves. Kelleway faced a lot fewer shots in a 5-2 win over Grandview Feb. 17, but was still forced to make 22 saves and Dolan 24.
Back in Richmond for game three on Monday (Feb. 18), it was Dolan’s turned to stand tall as he made 41 stops (including 19 in the second period when Richmond outshot Grandview 19-5) to lift his team to a 3-2 overtime victory. Kelleway, in a losing cause, made 24 stops.
Delta Ice Hawks are also finding The Second Season to be challenging. After tying North Vancouver for the most points during the regular campaign, each with 69, the Hawks surprisingly trail the Aldergrove Kodiaks two games to none. The Kodiaks were only a victory better than a .500 club during the regular season.
And North Vancouver, too, is being challenged by the eighth-place Ridge Meadows Flames, though they hold a 2-1 series lead. The Flames scored a 2-1 in the series’ opener.
Abbotsford Pilots hold a 2-0 lead over Langley Trappers in the other opening-round series. The Pilots were fourth and Trappers fifth in the Harold Brittain Conference during the regular season.