Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sockeyes Playoff Recap: Devils in the strangle hold down 3-0

Well, just as quickly as the PJHL playoffs kicked off, the Richmond Sockeyes have taken a commanding 3-0 series lead over the North Delta Devils.

Coming into the first round bout, the Sockeyes confidence stood in the fact that they had taken the regular season series 4-2 over their Tom Shaw conference foes. Oh, and of course that they finished the season as the number one team in the PJHL.

However, the Sockeyes came into the series riding a shaky streak of 1-4 in the month of February, and also very aware how tight some of their regular season matchups ended with the Devils - four of the six games finished by a one goal differential.

Below are some key stats contrasting the two clubs going into the Tom Shaw Conference Semi-Finals:

North Delta Devils (12-18-1-4)
Richmond Sockeyes (32-8-0-4)
8th offensive ranking (133 GF)
2nd offensive ranking (197 GF)
Goals For Average: 3.02
Goals For Average: 4.48
5th defensive ranking (143 GA)
3rd defensive ranking (97 GA)
Goals Against Average: 3.25
Goals Against Average: 2.20
PP goals: 26 – SH: 1
PP goals: 46 – SH: 3
Penalty Minutes: 686
Penalty Minutes: 894
Feb. record: 1-3
Feb. record: 1-4
Last 10: 5-4-0-1
Last 10: 5-2-0-3
Top scorer: Fiedler (20G, 20A)
Top scorer: Allison (25G, 34A)
Top goalie: Read (10-14-1)  & 3.03 GAA
Top goalie: Alder (20-10) & 2.51 GAA

Game One

Game one at Minoru Arena, and the buzz was in the air. It certainly felt like the beginning of another climb to hockey supremacy as captain Sam Chichak was back in the lineup to lead his troops, but despite the hype and hatred existing between the two teams, both Richmond and North Delta came out a little flat in the first.

The Sockeyes were coming off a full week's rest, and it appeared early on that the Devils took the early edge playing their style of game to a tee - grit in the corners and speed across the blue line. Finally midway through the frame, the Sockeyes came to life. And it didn't take them long to be off and running. Two quick goals came from Rudi Thorsteinson and Daniel Tait.

Although they were only down by two, the Devils looked deflated as the game went on. Goaltender Tyler Read was evidently their best player giving them a viable chance to stay in the hockey game. Mid way through the second however, he would allow one more putting it seemingly out of reach for the lack-luster North Delta Squad. Dean Allison tallied his first of the playoffs and put the Sockeyes well control.

In the third, no goals were scored. The Sockeyes tightened down extremely well defensively and gave up minimal amounts of chances to the Devils whose efforts at even getting one seemed far fetched. Overall, Kootenay Alder was rock solid in net as he stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout.

Game Two

Things move quickly in the PJHL playoffs. After the game one victory, the Sockeyes had under 24 hours to prepare for game two at Sungod Arena in North Delta.

The first period once again started lethargically with no goals being scored in the full first twenty minutes, despite the Devils having three power play opportunities.

It wasn't until four minutes left in the second that this hockey game found it's first goal. Finally, Danton Heinen broke the Sockeyes' scoreboard goose egg with his first of the playoffs, with the assist going to Dean Allison, who continues his strong play showing why he lead the team in scoring through 44 regular season games.

In the third, the Sockeyes would notch courtesy of Dominic Centis on the power play making it 2-0 with just over four minutes to play. It appeared Kootenay Alder might have been basking in the glory of back-to-back playoff shutouts, but just before anybody could finish their thought, the Devils drew blood. Finally they too would convert on the man advantage, getting a goal off the stick of Colin Catchpole.

It was 2-1 Sockeyes with a minute to play. The Sockeyes were in complete shutdown mode, trying desperately to hold on while the Devils gave on the gas as hard as they could with that little bit of extra fuel their first goal provided them. Somehow, someway, the puck found it's way into the back of the next with 0.6 seconds left in the third. Rookie Levi De Waal. Unbelievable.

After the first overtime frame, the game still stood 2-2. It was a huge moment in the series, it was either the Sockeyes clearly establishing themselves in the driver's seat, or the Devils would be riding passenger right there in front with them tied 1-1.

Well, talk about unlikely heroes, but hey, that's what the playoffs are all about, right? Right, because with just over five minutes into the second overtime periods, Trevor Lima - the defenseman turned forward, scoring just one goal all regular season - found the back of the net. The Sockeyes took it in the thriller, 3-2.

Game Three

They say it's the toughest lead in hockey, and the Sockeyes had it, the 2-0 series lead, going into game three on Saturday night at Sungod Arena. The third game in three days, and there was no denying how crucial this one was - either the landscape and complexion of the series was going to take a twist, or it was going to continue being lopsided with complete control lying with the Sockeyes.

Well, I certainly hope you picked option two, because lopsided became more like unfair. Like men playing amongst children. There is no light way to put it: the Sockeyes absolutely erupted all over the Devils, Sungod Arena and North Delta.

Richmond scored three in the first, six in the second and four in the third - getting 13 goals from seven different players - pummeling the Devils to a 13-2 victory. Daniell Lange, the rookie whose heroics never seem to expire, and Dean Allison, the fierce top liner, each picked up five points on the night, including both with hat tricks.

By the end, you could feel it as much as you could from some of the most troubled teams through the regular season such as the Port Moody Panthers: the North Delta Devils were at a new level of disheartenment. They're down 3-0 in the series heading back to the 'Ru, where the Sockeyes faithful will be awaiting their team in encouragement of throwing the last dagger, like a crowd at a boxing match anticipating the final blow leading to the undisputed knockout.

The Richmond Sockeyes are one win away from becoming heavyweight champions of the Tom Shaw Conference Semi-Finals, which would earn them a date to play for that title belt of the Conference Championship.

Be sure to catch game four vs. North Delta live from the 'Ru next Thursday, February 28th, on Pre-game 7:20, puck drop 7:30 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment