The playoffs present a perfect opportunity to change things up.
For the Grandview Steelers, it will be about bearing down and finding the consistency that’s been lacking of late.
The Burnaby-based Pacific Junior B Hockey League team opens the playoffs tonight (Thursday) against their Tom Shaw Conference rivals Richmond Sockeyes.
The Sockeyes edged Grandview down the stretch drive to claim second place in the conference, thus gaining home-ice advantage for the first round tilt. But on the Steelers’ side of the slate is a pretty solid 3-1 head-to-head record, which saw them outscore Richmond 18-13 over four games.
The Sockeyes’ offence has been the league’s second-most potent, averaging 4.75 goals per game. They’ve also been successful on the man advantage at a 27.46 per cent, which could give Grandview’s penalty-kill unit a tough test.
Although they went 5-5 over their last 10 games, the Steelers did prevail in their last meeting, a 6-3 win two weeks ago.
Last Sunday, Grandview ended the regular season with a 7-6 loss at the hands of Aldergrove, despite defenceman Jarod Yau’s hat trick.
The team's blueline has hellped generate a lot of its offence of late, in part due to the early January acquisition of former Sockeye star Thomas Von Schoenberg. The Richmond native had, a day earlier, been dealt to Campbell River of the Vancouver Island league, from where Grandview repatriated him back to the Mainland. He has produced since arriving, contributing a goal and eight assists over nine games.
Leading the Sockeyes into the playoffs is 20-year-old Ryleigh Anderson, who tallied 25 times in 41 games, including 13 powerplay markers, and rookie Garrett Wicks, who has snared 20 goals and 24 assists over 39 games
Expected to carry much of the netminding duties is Vancouver Giants prospect, 17-year-old Brady Eurby.
The Steelers will lean on 20-year-old Cale Dolan, who has posted a league-best eight shutouts, and offensive leader Jack Hamilton, with 23 goals in 44 games.
Game 2 of the series goes Sunday, 7:15 p.m. at the Burnaby Winter Club, followed Monday with Game 3 in Richmond. Game 4 goes Wednesday, 7 p.m., in Burnaby. If necessary, the series continues on Feb. 20, 23 and 24.