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Ice Hawks off to flying start at Cyclone Taylor Cup

Delta blanks Kootenay champion Kimberley 3-0 as PJHL teams sweep opening games
Jordan Bogress battles for puck during the Delta Ice Hawks 3-0 win over the Kimberley Dynamiters Thursday to open the Cyclone Taylor Cup Championships in Richmond.

Someone forgot to tell the Richmond Sockeyes and the Delta Ice Hawks Pacific Junior Hockey League teams have struggled at recent Cyclone Taylor Cup Championships

The host Sockeyes capped a terrific opening day for the PJHL with a dominating 4-1 victory over the Campbell River Storm on Thursday night. Hours earlier the Ice Hawks skated to impressive 3-0 win over the Kimberley Dynamiters. Both teams can now clinch spots in Sunday’s gold medal game with victories on Friday as round-robin play continues.

Coming off their PJHL title win 16 days ago, the Ice Hawks started slowly against the Dynamiters then eventually found their grove.

Michael Araki-Young made it 1-0 after 20 minutes and Delta put together a solid second period that included goals from Gary Dhaliwal and Mark Ephstein. Jordan Naylor picked up his third shutout of the playoffs, stopping 24 shots against the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League champions.

Playing their first game since being eliminated in the second round of the PJHL playoffs 29 days ago, the Sockeyes showed little rust against the Vancouver Island champions. After dodging early penalty trouble and a second period shorthanded goal from Brent Kinley, Richmond took control by peppering Storm goaltender Liam Murphy with 18 shots. He was beaten by Tyler Andrews and Trevor Townsend, with just 24 seconds left in the frame, to give Richmond a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Nicolas Bizzutto extended the margin with an early power play goal and Kyle Dion rounded out the scoring with another extra man tally. Richmond outshot Campbell River 38-18 on the night, including a whopping 29-12 margin over the final two periods. Hardy Hoonjan made 17 saves for the win.

The results sets up an intriguing Friday schedule at Minoru Arenas as the Storm and Dynamiters now have their backs against the wall. Delta takes on Campbell River at 3:30 p.m., followed by Richmond and Kimberley at 7:30 p.m.

The PJHL has just a bronze medal to show for the last three Cyclone Taylor Cups and that was when Mission hosted three years ago. Wins Friday by Richmond and Delta would set-up a meaningless final round-robin game on Saturday night and the first all-PJHL provincial junior “B” final since 2006 when Delta defeated host Abbotsford. That Ice Hawks team featured current Sockeyes head coach Brett Reusch.