Sockeyes fall short of playoff goal

By Don Fennell

Published 10:11 PST, Tue March 3, 2020

Last Updated: 10:37 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

It wasn’t the finish they were hoping for, but the Richmond Sockeyes left the rink last week confident they gave it a good shot.

For the second straight year, the Sockeyes were ousted in the opening round of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs by the Grandview Steelers. Grandview scored a 4-1 win Feb. 24 at Minoru Arena to take the best-of-seven series 4 games to 3.

The Sockeyes can make a good case they deserved a better fate.

After winning the opening game of the series 5-1, the Sockeyes dropped the next two 4-1 and 5-3 before regaining the series’ lead with 6-3 and 7-0 victories. But the series’ turning point came in Game 6 Feb. 23 at Burnaby Winter Game—a 5-4 overtime win by Grandview.

“We had a great start to go up 2-0 in the first period, but then let them back,” explained Sockeyes’ owner Doug Paterson. 

Even after Grandview rebounded for briefly tie the game at two, the Sockeyes again enjoyed a two-goal cushion late in the game but failed to hold it. With under five minutes to go in regulation, Grandview pulled to within a goal on the powerplay and then forced overtime with just over two minutes to play. With momentum now clearly having switched, the Steelers won it with another powerplay tally just 45 seconds into the fourth period.

“It’s why it was important for us to end things in Game 6,” said Paterson. “You just don’t know what will happen in Game 7.

It was very emotional ending to the season, especially with five 20-year-olds having played the last games of junior hockey. And with the Sockeyes’ strong culture, Paterson said it was like saying goodbye to family.

As for going forward, Paterson and the front office team is already looking forward to next season.

“Don’t forget, everyone of our defencemen was only 16 years old,” he noted. “But it’s not going to be easy. There’s so much strength in our conference.”

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