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Quick from the gate, Sockeyes look to avoid collapse

By Don Fennell

Published 1:28 PDT, Wed September 18, 2019

Four games into the 2019-20 Pacific Junior Hockey League season, things are going swimmingly for the Richmond Sockeyes.

A perennial favourite, the Sockeyes are a perfect 4-0 following a convincing 9-5 win over the visiting Ridge Meadows Flames last Thursday at Minoru Arenas. This comes on the heels of a 6-2 win in Langley the previous night and 5-3 and 4-2 wins over White Rock Whalers and Mission Ice Breakers Sept. 5 and 7 respectively.

In the midst of selecting his team last month, coach Brett Reusch recognized the importance of a fast start. But given about half of this year’s lineup are rookies, he has to be particularly impressed.

It’s not a surprise, however.

The Sockeyes were also perfect through September last year. Then the losses came in bunches. Reusch and his staff will do everything in their power to ensure a similar drop off isn’t repeated.

That means keeping on the players not to get too far ahead of themselves. But also letting them maintain their creativity as much as possible.

“We don’t want to intimidate them into making mistakes, but you hope they learn from them,” he explained.

With eight points each through four games, a pair of key veterans are setting the path the success. Ryleigh Anderson has three goals in that stretch, while captain Noah Kelly has seven assists. Close behind are three other veterans each with six points—Marcus Pantazis, Nicholas Wilson and Thomas Von Schoenberg, the latter the team’s top scoring defenceman.

But the rookies have certainly contributed too. Easton Elmer and Garrett Wicks have four points each, Gabriel Parent three and Ethan Strik two.

Six-time league champions, Richmond has three games remaining this month—Sept. 19 versus Grandview Steelers at home (7 p.m. at Minoru Arenas), Sept. 20 against the Flames in Ridge Meadows, and back home against North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Sept. 26.

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