The Richmond Sockeyes are moving onto round two and the Tom Shaw Conference finals after defeating the North Delta Devils, sweeping them in four straight games. Rudi Thosteinson scored the game winner with just 1:11 remaining in the third period to send the Sockeyes to the next round.
It was a pure defensive struggle for most of the game as both teams had to battle with sloppy offensive zone pressure. Most of the first period was controlled by the Devils, especially since they outshot Richmond 12-5 in the opening frame. Luckily for the Sockeyes their first shot against Alex Wind was a good one, a Keenan Webb point shot found its way to Rudi Thorsteinson who sent the puck in on net. The rebound found its way to an open Jeremy Hamaguchi who scored his third goal of the playoffs. This was a huge goal as Aaron Oakley was playing solid in net and they had to give him some help.
North Delta just kept pressuring the Sockeyes in the second period, firing everything towards the net. They would finally be rewarded with a goal as Adam Nathwani scored his second of the post-season to tie the game at one. Manuveer Mahil was able to get the puck to Nathwani and he fired a shot past Oakley on the low corner. Devils were outshooting the Sockeyes 20 to 16 after two periods of play. The biggest part of the period though came earlier in the period, as Chris Manhas scored a open net goal as Aaron Oakley was down on the ice. But the referees discussed the play and deemed that Weslee Lee ran goaltender interference on the play.
Most of the last period saw both teams having a really hard time getting that pressure in each other's zone, with countless neutral zone play. During the final few minutes is when the offence really kicked into gear. Both teams had relentless pressure on both goaltenders. Aaron Oakley making some huge saves and Alex Wind stopping a Connor Wilson and Patrick Hunter breakaway. With just 1:11 left in the game, the Sockeyes would get on the board. With a great move by Jeremy Hamaguchi to move the puck behind the net, he waited for Thorsteinson to get open, and with a quick pass out front, Rudi was able to shoot the puck past the red line for the lead. The score was 2-1 and all the Devils could do is look on in horror as their season slipped away.
Despite all the chances with the goaltender pulled they could not get the puck past Oakley and the Sockeyes would win the game 2-1 and the series 4-0. Both goaltenders got a star in the game and deservingly so, Oakley (Third) with 39 of 40 saves and Wind (Second) stopping 30 of 32 shots. Thorsteinson with his game winning goal and assist got the games first star and moved his point total to nine, just two behind Danny Brandys for the PIJHL lead.
Next up for Richmond is either the Grandview Steelers or Delta Ice Hawks. That series is currently 2-1 in favour of Delta, either way game one of the Tom Shaw final will go Saturday, March 5th at 5:30 PM at the Minoru Arena. The game will be broadcast on SockeyesTV ww.richmondsockeyes.com