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Delta Ice Hawks tie series with 5-1 win over Ridge Meadows Flames

Game five of PJHL championship set for Thursday night (March 30) at Ladner Leisure Centre
Ridge Meadows Flames goaltender Cam Connolly makes a save on a shot tipped by Delta Ice Hawk Carson Merriman during game three of the 2023 PJHL championships, played on Monday, March 27 at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/Maple Ridge News)

The Delta Ice Hawks and Ridge Meadows Flames are locked in a close battle for the Stonehouse Cup.

Delta tied the series at two games apiece with a decisive 5-1 win at Cam Neely Arena Wednesday night (March 29).

Flames captain Jordan Kujala opened the scoring on the powerplay, putting one past the Ice Hawks’ Merik Erickson just past the halfway mark in the first period. The goal — assisted by Brandon Osborne and Theo Kochan — is Kujala’s third of the playoffs, giving him 19 points through 13 games.

Five and half minutes later, Ice Hawks captain Alec Scouras evened the score for Delta, scoring his sixth goal of the playoffs assisted by Yuji Akimoto and Ryan Bal. Scouras has 14 points through 13 games played.

Colin Jang got the go-ahead goal seven minutes into the second, assisted by Mykhaylo Sheludchenko and Declan Warburton, for his sixth goal of the playoffs and tenth point in 12 games.

Delta added three goals in the third, with Carson Hemenway scoring a little over two minutes into the period on the powerplay (assisted by Carson Merriman and Kyle Robinson), Austin Kofler at 7:22 (assisted by Alex Lucchesi) and Payton Hu on the powerplay at 18:24 (assisted by Akimoto).

Cam Connolly stopped 23 of 28 shots he faced in net for the Flames, while Erickson stopped 23 of 24 shots for the Ice Hawks to earn first-star honours.

Ice Hawks d-man Akimoto, with two assists for the night, was chosen as the game’s second star, while game-winner Jang was named the third.

The series shifts back to the Ladner Leisure Centre for game five Thursday evening (March 30), with game six set for Cam Neely Arena on Saturday (April 1).

Game seven, if necessary, will be played at George Preston Arena in Langley on April 2, as the Ladner Leisure Centre is unavailable after March 31.

The winner of the PJHL championship will advance to the 2023 Cyclone Taylor Cup, which is being hosted by the Revelstoke Grizzlies April 13-16. The four-team tournament will also include the champions from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, battling it out to determine the provincial Junior B champion.

The trophy has been awarded since 1967, and the 2022 champions were the Langley Trappers.

In other news, the PJHL announced its 2022/2023 league awards on Tuesday (March 28).

Ice Hawks forward Brayden Sinclair was named Rookie of the Year after a stand-out regular season in which he tallied 36 goals (six on the power play and one short-handed) and 48 assists through 45 games while accumulating 60 penalty minutes.

So far Sinclair has six goals and five assists this post-season, including a goal in each of the Ice Hawks’ firth three games against the Flames.

Meantime, Ian Wilson was named Broadcaster of the Year for his work with the Ice Hawks, Chilliwack Jets and Richmond Sockeyes.

Flames forward Zack Lagrange was named the league’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

Other winners were:

• Most Valuable Player of the Year – Chris Fortems (White Rock Whalers)

• Best Defenseman – Dylan Wormold (Langley Trappers)

• Top Goaltender of the Year – Mark Paton (White Rock Whalers)

• Most Inspirational Player of the Year – Kaidan Johnson (Grandview Steelers)

• Most Improved Player of the Year – Gavin Bains (Richmond Sockeyes)

• Coach of the Year – Andy Liboiron (Surrey Knights)

• GM/Executive of the Year – Will Kump (Richmond Sockeyes)

• Trainer of the Year – Kristalee Walchuk (Abbotsford Pilots)

— with files from Neil Corbett

SEE ALSO: Junior hockey awards for 2 Surrey players in WHL, plus a win for Knights coach in PJHL

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James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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