54 shots and a loss

Frustrated Ice Hawks never recovered from slow start in 5-2 defeat to Langley at PJHL Winter Classic

It was a missed opportunity for a frustrated bunch of Delta Ice Hawks at last weekend’s Pacific Junior Hockey League Winter Classic in Richmond.

The Ice Hawks had a chance to pull within four points of the league-leading North Vancouver Wolf Pack with a win over the sixth place Langley Trappers on Sunday afternoon. Despite a whopping 54-20 advantage in the shot department, they never could recover from a terrible start in a 5-2 loss. Adding salt to the wound was Richmond’s 4-1 win over Aldergrove to conclude the 12-game league showcase event — vaulting the Sockeyes past them in the overall standings.

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The Trappers scored three times on their first six shots — chasing starting goaltender Thomas Watts — and putting Delta in catch-up mode the rest of the game. Despite dominating the second period with 20 shots on net, it was the Trappers extending their lead to 4-0 after 40 minutes. A pair of goals by Daniel Rubin in the third broke Kristian Lyon’s shutout bid.

Ice Hawks GM and head coach Steve Robinson knows his team’s goal of landing one of the top two seeds for next month’s PJHL playoffs just got that much tougher.

“I felt bad for Watts. Honestly I don’t think they were horrendous goals but it was a combination of the team not starting on time and him being put in a tough spot,” said Robinson. “You play that (kind of game) and you usually are going to win eight or nine times out of 10. Overall, I didn’t mind our energy once we pulled our heads out of our (butts).

“I told them they needed to win 10 of 12 down the stretch. It doesn’t matter which 10 it is so dust yourselves off, stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on.”

The loss prevented Delta from sweeping the four game regular season against Langley which might have explained the flat start despite warnings from Robinson.

“I told the guys this morning, they have 18 wins and we have 22. Don’t sleep on them,” he added. “Just because you feel like they are ‘down there’ they are not. They are a hungry, young and a good team.”

The Hawks will be right back at it Tuesday night when the Ridge Meadows Flames visit Ladner at 7:35 p.m. Jordy Engelson is expected to be in net.

The club’s top goaltender backstopped his team to a 5-2 win over Aldergrove on Saturday but didn’t dress against Langley as the 18-year-old slowly gets back to full health after being sidelined in late December with the flu. Affiliate Aidan Taylor stepped in for Watts to play the final 52 minutes against Langley.

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