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Richmond Sockeyes at top of the league

The Richmond Sockeyes play PoCo on Thursday night at Minoru Arena - puck drops at 7 p.m.

The Richmond Sockeyes find themselves early in the season sitting in first place overall in the Pacific Junior Hockey League.

October saw seven games on tap for the Sockeyes who won five and dropped a pair - one to the Delta Ice Hawks (4-0) and the other against the Abbotsford Pilots in a 3-2 shootout loss.

Offensive firepower clearly doesn’t seem to be an issue considering that they outscored their opposition 37-19 over the eight games as they look to continue their streak moving forward.

The Sockeyes hosted the Port Moody Panthers in their last home game of the month. They pulled out an impressive 4-0 win, outshooting their opposition by a 45-28 margin.

The game itself was a fast-paced contest with the Panthers throwing shots from various areas of the ice only to be denied given the fast reflexes of Sockeyes’ Thomas Popa.

But it wasn’t until 16:37 of the first when Callum Lind put the home squad on the board with help from captain Matthew Stewart and rookie call-up Ryan Kump.

The second marker came a short 11 seconds later, catching the Panthers off guard as former St. George’s Zach Zapanta got his first of the season with William Huo and Eithan Grishin setting it up from the back end.

The first period saw the Sockeyes take command of the shots holding a 23-9 margin through 20 minutes while the second saw neither team turn on the red light with Richmond holding a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.

The Panthers had additional chances but were denied only to have Richmond’s Jonathan Soares getting a nifty set-up pass from Noah Gibbons giving them a 3-0 lead. But this was short-lived.

The Sockeyes added their final goal of the contest with Kai McComb set up from Ryan Ashe and Bryce Strandt giving the Sockeyes a 4-0 win, maintaining first place in the PJHL.

Final shots were Richmond outshoot the Panthers by a 45-28 margin with both clubs unable to capitalize on any power play opportunity.

The Sockeyes wrapped up October with a short jaunt to Abbotsford taking on the Pilots in a contest that would be decided in a shootout affair that came down to the final shooter.

Say what you will, every game in the PJHL is entertaining considering that no one can predict the winner based on league standings alone.

Richmond’s Teo Lin got a lone goal at 14:28 of the first that saw the Sockeyes outshoot the Pilots 11-8 through 20 minutes.

Abbotsford continued to press but were unable to get any past Sockeyes starter Oliver Read who was tested often and forced early to make some stellar saves, albeit on only eight shots.

The second period saw Sockeyes’ Jonathan Soares break in after an impressive set-up from both Eithan Grishin and Justin Grant while on the power play, taking a 2-0 lead to the room after 40 minutes.

Abby started the third period with more jump than the first two, managing to grab a pair from Connor Jarvis while on the power play at 8:03 that saw them pull within one.

They continued to press, pulling their goaltender for the extra attacker that saw them get the tying goal at 19:59, forcing overtime that saw nothing determined in extra time.

With pressure on both goaltenders, Richmond’s three were unable to turn on the red light while Abby’s last shooter Ashton McDonaugh sealed the win for the Pilots.

Richmond outshot the Pilots by a narrow 34-29 margin.

As the month comes to a close, the Sockeyes hold sole possession of first place.

They return home to face the expansion Port Coquitlam Trailblazers Nov. 2. Game time is at 7 p.m. at the Minoru Arena.

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