Sockeyes rounding into form

By Don Fennell

Published 2:21 PST, Tue November 9, 2021

Last Updated: 11:38 PST, Tue November 30, 2021

What a difference a game makes.

Or at least confidence.

Though the Richmond Sockeyes struggled with consistency through the first two months of this Pacific Junior Hockey League season, their head coach, Bayne Koen, never doubted the team could right the ship. And that patience appears to have paid off, as it seems the club is indeed rounding into historic form—as one of the league’s top contenders.

On the heels of a narrow 2-1 road victory over the White Rock Whalers at Centennial Arena on Oct. 16, the offensive floodgates swung open five nights later when the Sockeyes blasted the visiting Aldergrove Kodiaks 11-4 at Minoru Arenas. That seemed to be the tonic to convince the Sockeyes of what they’re capable of.

Since then, the team split a home-and-home “series” with the powerhouse Langley Trappers (12-3-0-1, with 66 goals for and only 28 allowed)  The Sockeyes (12-6-0-0; 76 goals for and 52 allowed) held the high-flying Trappers to a single goal in a 1-0 loss Oct. 24 at George Preston, before earning a 3-2 decision back at Minoru on Oct. 28. They then flexed their own offensive muscles in grounding the Abbotsford Pilots 7-2 in the Fraser Valley to close out the month of October.

Garrett Wicks continues to lead the Sockeyes in individual scoring with 15 goals and 15 assists through 18 games. That’s sixth best in the league.

After that, it’s scoring by committee—often a sure sign of a good team.

Gabriel Parent has 15 points in as many games, while Matthew Stewart also has 15 points in 10 games. Jason Lin is the top-scoring defenceman with four goals and 14 points, while fellow d-man Gabriel Suessenbacher-Fu has two goals and 13 points.

Among goaltenders, Jovan Kheleh sports the league’s fifth-best goals-against average at 2.84 and has posted one shutout. Marcus Cumberworth has played in 10 games and sports a 2.88 average along with an impressive .918 save percentage.

As a result of their strong finish to the month of October and solid start to November—namely a 6-2 victory over the Tom Shaw Conference-leading North Vancouver Wolf Pack (14-3-0-1), the Sockeyes are now just five points back of the Pack with the Delta Ice Hawks (11-5-0-1) in hot pursuit—just a single point back of Richmond. The two teams meet tonight at 7:35 p.m. at Ladner Leisure Centre. Richmond will host White Rock on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Minoru Arenas.

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