With one game remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to become a little clearer for the defending Pacific Junior Hockey League champions.
A 5-3 win over the Port Moody Panthers on Saturday night clinched the Delta Ice Hawks (31-7-2-3) at least the No. 2 seed for the upcoming PJHL playoffs. They take a two-point cushion for top spot overall into Tuesday’s final regular season encounter with the White Rock Whalers at the Ladner Leisure Centre (7:35 p.m.) but are going to have to wait and see what happens next weekend.
That’s when the North Vancouver Wolf Pack (32-9-0-1) closes out its schedule with games against Ridge Meadows and White Rock. The Wolf Pack hold the tiebreaker over Delta thanks to a 3-1 record in regular season meetings.
Hawks GM and head coach Steve Robinson referenced golf to analyze the chase for first place honours.
“If we can get into the clubhouse and post a 69 (points) then you never know,” he said. “They got to sit there for three days and think ‘we can not screw up.’ They probably still will get (the wins) but they are playing teams capable of pulling upsets.”
Regardless, the Hawks are rolling at the right time of the year — riding a season high nine-game streak.
Three unanswered goals erased a 1-0 Panthers lead after 20 minutes. Jake Dowell scored what proved to be the game winning with 6:35 remaining. Kyle Uy, CJ Christensen and Dario Esposito, with a pair, rounded out the scoring. Liam Visram chipped in with three assists while Jordy Engelson made 18 stops.
Delta also cruised to an 8-2 win over Surrey last Thursday. Daniel Rubin and AP player Craig Bromhead each scored twice.
The Hawks’ opening round opponent is very much up in the air with Aldergrove and Ridge Meadows jockeying for the seventh and eighth spots.
The Richmond Sockeyes bounced back from last Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Hawks to defeat Abbotsford and Ridge Meadows to lock down the No. 3 seed.