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Richmond Sockeyes fight to even playoff series Monday in Maple Ridge

The puck drops March 25 in game four in the playoff series against the Ridge Meadows Flames
The Sockeyes and the Flames are back in action in Maple Ridge on Monday night.

The Richmond Sockeyes face off against Ridge Meadows Flames in game four on Monday night as they trail 2-1 in the final playoff series.

While the game is played on the ice, there is much that goes on behind the scenes with the Richmond Sockeyes coaching staff working on putting a winning game plan that will advance them to the provincial championship.

The Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) finals is underway with the top two teams facing off against each other in a best-of-seven series. The two teams have only met once so far all season.

Game one saw Richmond double up by a 4-2 margin in Ridge Meadows that saw Thomas Popa finish with 22 saves on 24 shots in addition to being named the game's first star.

Game one of the championship series remained scoreless until 19:53 when Justin Grant took the lead despite Ridge outshooting the Sockeyes by a 10-6 margin.

The second period was a different period with the Sockeyes assessed four minors with the first on a poorly timed line change that saw Stenvig forced to make a couple of spectacular saves, keeping the Flames off the board.

They did finally get on the scoresheet at 11:45 when Theo Kochan tied the game, only to be followed by their second of the game at 18:57 with Josh Bettesworth giving them a 2-1 lead.

The third period saw the Sockeyes’ Teo Lin tie the game, leading the game into overtime. In the end, the Flames' Jack Foster got a power-play goal giving the Flames a 1-0 hold in the series and the first loss on home ice for the Sockeyes since October.

Back to 'Fish Tank' for game two

Game two saw the teams return to the “Fish Tank” three days later. The Flames jumped out to an early lead while on the ever-dreaded power play with Michael McIntyre serving a charging minor.

The Sockeyes responded at 7:25 with Matthew Stewart tying the game only to have the Flames grab a pair with the first at 10:37 while on the power play followed by the second of the period at 15:54 taking a 3-1 lead after two periods.

The third period saw the Sockeyes manage four goals, two on the power play, and the last one at 19:44 tying the series at one each.

Game three in Maple Ridge

The top two teams then headed to Ridge for game three a short two days later.

Returning to home ice for the Flames proved to be motivation that saw them outscore the Sockeyes by a narrow 2-1 margin after one period with each team trading minors.

The second period was more tentative with both teams playing a hard-checking contest trading shots at eight each. But the Sockeyes were still trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes.

The third period again saw a tight checking contest that saw the Sockeyes' Teo Lin grab a short-handed goal at 10:50 which would eventually send the game into overtime and eventually two overtime periods.

Following a rush into the attacking zone, the best chance came off the stick of Teo Lin who nevertheless had his pass blocked. This created a turnover for the Flames' captain Lukas Ravenstein who slid it to Theo Kochan who, in turn, ripped a bullet past Stenvig for the game-winning goal.

To no surprise, both Matthew Candusso and Noah Stevig were second and third stars respectively with the games first star going to Theo Kochan.

Game four, Monday at 7 p.m. in Maple Ridge, is expected to be a barn burner. 

The series returns to Minoru Arena for game five on Thursday.

- Steve Erickson handles media relations for the Richmond Sockeyes

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