The 2012 PIJHL playoff got underway for the Richmond Sockeyes with a battle against the North Vancouver Wolf Pack. The Sockeyes dominated the Wolf Pack all season winning all 6 games of the regular season, in fact the Wolf Pack had not beaten Richmond in over two years. But that wasn't the case on this night as a combination of stellar Wolf Pack goaltending, stingy defence and two goals from Brett Gough, gave the Pack a 1-0 series lead with a 4-3 win/
The faceoff drop got underway and led to a first period that saw the Wolf Pack match their top defenders against the Sockeyes top line sand it worked. Richmond registered 17 shots to North Van's 6, but the score remained tied.
In the second the game got underway very quickly, as Brodyn Nielsen blasted a shot past Sockeyes goalie Tyler Klassen to get the series first goal and a 1-0 lead. But the Sockeyes were quick to respond four minutes later as Jeremy Hamaguchi finally solved Wolf Pack netminder Jordan Liem for a 1-1 tie.
The intensity was high for both teams and it would ramp up even more in the final five minutes. Kyzen Loo would take a penalty and put the Sockeyes down a man, but it was his team who would get a goal. Dean Allison got the puck inside the Wolf Pack zone and found captain Patrick Hunter coming in. Hunter fired a puck towards the net and a rebound came right to his stick and he buried the puck for Richmonds first lead of the game.
The Wolf Pack never quit though with just over a minute remaining in the second period Brett Gough tied the game at two with a nice backhand that once again slipped through Klassen. Then it was Richmond who surprised the Wolf Pack scoring with just 31.1 seconds left on the clock to get a 3-2 lead into the third. Kyzen Loo was the goal scorer and now it was down to twenty minutes.
Sure enough the Pack came out flying in the third period, throwing everything they could on net they would tie it up just a minute into the final frame. Robert Johnson put the puck right up the middle to Brett Gough and he scored his second of the game for a 3-3 tie.
Now the game got even more intense both team fighting for puck battles and making nice plays. The North Van team had a fire in their eyes after Gough's goal and it would eventually pay off for them. Quin Buckellew got the puck in the slot and shoved it on goal, he got the puck back on his stick and danced around Klassen to put it for the 4-3 lead 7 minutes into the third.
That would be it for Sockeyes goalie Tyler Klassen as he was pulled stopping just 15 of 19 shots on goal. Meanwhile at the other end Jordan Liem looked like a wall, he stopped a staggering 22 shots in the third period. Despite the late onslaught by the Sockeyes in the final minute, it wasn't enough and even a Justin Rai shot off the post couldn't sneak in and the Wolf Pack won 4-3.
The three stars of the game were as follows.
The Sockeyes are ow down in the series 1-0 and have to play two straight games on the road against the Wolf Pack at the Harry Jerome Arena. Gametime for game 2 will be an 8:00 puck drop.
If you can't make the game tune in to SockeyesTV to watch the webcast at www.richmondsockeyes.com