The Delta Ice Hawks proved Wednesday night they don’t always have to fill the net to win hockey games, especially in a much-anticipated heavyweight mid-season match-up
The highest scoring team in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, averaging nearly seven goals per contest, relied on a solid overall game to trim the host Langley Trappers 3-2 in a shootout.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since Langley prevailed over Delta in the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial final back in April. They will also face each other again on Tuesday (7:35 p.m.) at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
Carson Merriman and captain Alec Scouras converted their attempts while goaltender Merik Erickson capped his impressive night by denying both Langley shooters. The 18-year-old North Delta native finished with 29 saves to improve his record to 10-0-0 for the league-leading Ice Hawks, now 18-3-0-0 on the season.
The defending PJHL champion Trappers, are also off to an impressive start with a 15-4-1-2 record to sit atop the Harold Brittian Conference. They opened the scoring Wednesday four minutes in before rookie standout Brayden Sinclair answered for the Hawks with his league-leading 21st of the season.
Langley tied the game in the opening minute of the third period after Scouras had given Delta a 2-1 lead. The Hawks fired 46 shots at goalie Dylan Black, including seven in the three-on-three overtime session.
Delta was coming off a 10-0 home ice romp over the Surrey Knights just 24 hours earlier.
“We got off to kind of a bumpy start having the Surrey game the night before and Langley jumped on us pretty good, but it was kind of what we needed and in the second and third periods we played really, really well and were unlucky not to score more,” said Ice Hawks GM and head coach Steve Robinson. “To win a close game and to have an exciting finish to a game like that is something we haven’t had yet this year.
“Merik was lights out in goal and I can just see the confidence in our team when we are getting good goaltending.”
The rematch Tuesday will be minus a number of key players from both teams thanks to the inaugural B.C. Hockey Conference Prospects Game taking place that night in Chilliwack, featuring the top young players from the PJHL and the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Forwards Colin Jang, Payton Hu, Sinclair and goalie Zach Shaughnessy will be playing for the PJHL. Sinclair sits first in league scoring while Hu is ninth. The Trappers will have three players participating.
After a two-year pandemic pause, the Delta Ice Hawks Teddy Bear Toss is returning on Tuesday, Dec. 6 when the Grandview Steelers visit the Ladner Leisure Centre at 7:35 p.m. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Deltassist’s Holiday Toy Depot.