Sockeyes fishing for consistency

By Don Fennell

Published 12:48 PDT, Tue October 19, 2021

Last Updated: 12:13 PDT, Fri November 5, 2021

Coaches have become increasingly fond of promoting the process as much as the result. But in actuality the two go hand in hand.

Look no further than the Richmond Sockeyes as an example.

While Bayne Koen, bench boss of the local junior hockey club, would love to see more consistency from his team, he knows with a young group of players (10 of whom are playing their first year in the Pacific Junior Hockey League) the “process” takes time. And so predictably the Sockeyes have been a bit up and down to start the 2021-22 season—both during stretches in their first 13 games, and overall during the first two months of the schedule.

“We’re getting there, but we still have to learn how to play 60 consecutive minutes. It’s always a learning process,” says Koen. “I think the guys are becoming more comfortable with their routines though.”

Despite the early going being a work in progress, the Sockeyes are second in the Tom Shaw Conference—just a point back of the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, albeit having played three more games than the frontrunners.

Sticking with the “process” mantra suggesting there’s work still to be done, the Sockeyes’ goals-for-and-against ratio (49-41) won’t raise many eyebrows either. Nor will their inability to win more than three games in a row, which they have done twice.

“We’ve excelled in some areas but definitely need to get better in others,” offers Koen, who is particularly keen to see all his players be conscientious in the defensive zone and without the puck. He says everyone likes to score goals, and he certainly doesn’t want to quash any offensive creativity. but says keeping the puck out of of your own net matters equally.

“It’s such a fine line at all levels,” Koen continues. “We want to build from our end out and need the guys to buy in. I’ve been encouraged recently hearing communication even on the bench talking about how to eradicate chances against.”

After hosting the Aldergrove Kodiaks (6-7-1) here on Thursday (7 p.m. face-off at Minoru Arena), the Sockeyes (8-5-0) wrap up October with a home-and-home versus Langley Trappers (9-3-0) Oct. 24 and 28 and at the Abbotsford Pilots (4-8-0) on Oct. 29. Their November schedule begins with a home game versus North Vancouver (8-1-0-1) on Nov. 4, followed by a game against tunnel rival Delta Ice Hawks (7-4-0-1) at Ladner Leisure Centre on Nov. 9 and a home date on Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) versus the White Rock Whalers (6-4-1).

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