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Sockeyes treading water early on

By Don Fennell

Published 10:24 PDT, Tue September 28, 2021

Last Updated: 10:33 PDT, Tue September 28, 2021

With nine first-year players in the lineup, the Richmond Sockeyes are holding their own early in this Pacific Junior Hockey League season.

Sporting a 4-3 mark after seven games, the perennial pennant contenders aren’t yet where they hope to be. But adjusting to a new level of play is no easy feat, as the myriad of rookies are discovering.

Three of those first-year players are on defence, which accounts for nearly half of the seven currently making up the blueline roster. And although he is still just 17-years-old, White Rock’s Brayden Nager has already demonstrated his offensive flair by scoring twice and assisting on another in his seven appearances with the Sockeyes.

And up front, Delta’s Matthew Stewart, 18, is enjoying an auspicious debut with four goals and four assists in just five games. His eight points are second-best on the team to only veteran Garrett Wicks, who is off to a strong start with eight goals and five assists through seven games. In fact, Wicks’ numbers have him sitting second in the league scoring race.

The Sockeyes opened the 2021-22 season dropping a 4-2 decision to visiting North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Sept. 9 at Minoru Arena but bounced back to even their record at 1-1 with a 4-3 win over the Outlaws at Mission City Leisure Centre two nights later. They followed that up with 7-2 and 7-4 wins over the Delta Ice Hawks and Port Moody Panthers before dropping a 5-2 decision to the Grandview Steelers on Sept. 19. Last week, Richmond topped White Rock Whalers 5-3 and lost 6-5 to the Chilliwack Jets.

The Sockeyes are scheduled to close out September with a return engagement against Delta (Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at Minoru Arena). Upcoming games in early October include home dates versus Grandview on Oct. 7 and the Ridge Meadows Flames on Oct. 14.

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