Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Sockeyes ground the Pilots in overtime thriller

The Sockeyes have struggled with their starts all season long. With offensive players like Daniel Tait and Rudi Thorsteinson sidelined, it appeared as if it would be another unhurried first period. It was anything but that for the home side, as Richmond found their legs early on in the game. They had great chances to beat Aaron Oakley, but the veteran Abbotsford goaltender stopped all 13 shots he faced in the initial stanza. On the other hand, the young Payton Lee remained mainly untested as he would only face 3 shots in the first. 

The second period saw both teams start out slightly more conservatively. The Pilots picked up their skating, but Richmond held their ground and did not allow many openings. It would be Abbotsford who would score first with a shot from the slot by Chris Vinette that would be partially contacted by Lee, but found enough inertia to get past the red line. The goal came when the Sockeyes were playing their best hockey of the period. The equalizer would come just three minutes after, as the provisional top line of Chichak, Allison and Lawson would all combine for the marker. "2-step" Allison would get the final touch, as he found himself by the crease and poked the puck in from in deep. The Pilots would answer on a play where winger Luke Venema skated on in on the left side, centred a pass that missed a teammate, as well as two Sockeyes, and was received in the deep slot by pinching blueliner Ryan Parmar. He wouldn't forgive as he blasted a slapshot to give Lee no chance. Both teams headed to the locker room with Abbotsford leading and feeling confident to increase their winning streak to 7 straight.

It wouldn't take long for the Sockeyes to ignite the 'Ru, as only 1:02 into the 3rd, the captain Sam Chichak would receive a nice pass from Heinen who would put just enough on it to beat Oakley. This early goal set up an entertaining third period. Both teams played a much more open period, full of hits, end to end action and intensity. The shot total for the period would read 15-15 as the buzzer sounded to extend the match. 

To the delight of the home crowd, it was a short-lived extra period. Perhaps Aaron Oakley's only weakness is his puck handling, and that would fail him at the worst possible time. The Sockeyes dump a puck into the Pilots zone. Oakley was the first man on it. He mishandled the pass and gave it to Allison. He spotted his teammate Hamaguchi who didn't give Oakley time to get back into his net and put the winner away. 

Although it is early on in the season, this game had a playoff feel to it. The tight checking prevented both teams many odd man rushes or breakaways. The chess match, however, provided a different sort of entertainment that gave hockey fans an excitement level that was sustained throughout. 

First Star - Sam Chichak
Second Star - Aaron Oakley
Third Star - Dean Allison

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