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Season ends for Richmond Sockeyes in Game 7

Ridge Meadows Flames defeat Richmond team in PJHL championship game

It took a full seven games for the Pacific Junior Hockey League to crown its champion and, to the surprise of many, the Ridge Meadows Flames did what many thought could never happen, unless you’re a Flames faithful.

Prior to the game, the Richmond Sockeyes learned they would be without Teo Lin who was injured in the latter part of game six in Maple Ridge, which meant the rest of the team needed to carry the load.

Prior to game seven, Sockeyes’ Captain Mathew Stewart said the team was “on edge, but up for the game” knowing the pressure was clearly on the team that finished first overall in the league.

Given the stellar play of both goaltenders, Matthew Candusso of the Flames and Sockeyes' Noah Stenvig, the game remained scoreless through the first 20 minutes with Ridge outshooting Richmond by a 12-10 margin.

Discipline would play a key to pulling out a win in a game that saw few penalties, with only one minor in the first to Ridge that forced Candusso to make some quality saves.

The sellout crowd on hand was entertained to several exceptional chances at both ends of the ice, at times becoming deafening waiting for that moment to cheer on their team.

It wasn’t until 16:02 of the second period that Theo Kochan brought the Flames’ supporters to their feet while on the power play, desperately holding the lead and forcing the Sockeyes to the outside.

A scramble at the end of the period saw the Flames’ Jack Foster give them a 2-0 lead on the power play.

The third period saw the Flames’ Zack Lagrange give the visiting team a comfortable 3-0 lead at 15:52.

The Sockeyes continued to press, and, 20 seconds later, Gavin Bains scored and pulled them within two as they looked to get an equalizer and possibly force the game into overtime.

Richmond called a timeout to set up a play that would penetrate the strong play of the Flames “D” only to have any chance turned aside by Candusso.

The Sockeyes pulled Stenvig out of the net with just under three minutes remaining in the game.

The dying seconds saw the Flames’ Pierce Whyte get an empty-net goal, giving the Flames the Ray Stonehouse Cup which is emblematic of the Pacific Junior Hockey League Championship.

In a post-game interview, Flames general manager Derek Bedard was asked about the Sockeyes organization.

“They’re a first-class organization and you could see that considering the handshake took forever after the game, because there is so much mutual respect between the teams.”

The Flames were denied the championship last season in game seven at the hands of the Delta Ice Hawks but weren't denied it in this year's championship

The Flames will hit the ice for practice prior to heading to Kimberly for the Provincial Junior A Championship taking place April 18-21 for the Mowat Cup.

BC Hockey chief executive officer Cameron Hope mentioned that “The Mowat Cup has long symbolized Junior A hockey excellence in British Columbia and it’s fitting to see its return, and we all look forward to seeing a champion hold it high in Kimberley for the first time in several seasons.”

- Steve Erickson handles media relations for the Richmond Sockeyes

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