The Aldergrove Kodiaks, winners of their last six contests, were put to the test Wednesday night at Aldergrove Arena.
The Kodiaks hosted the Tom Shaw Conference-leading Delta Ice Hawks, but a caveat was attached to the showdown.
The Ice Hawks were missing seven regulars, suspended as a result of Friday's line brawl with the Abbotsford Pilots.
The suspensions mean the Ice Hawks will be using a few affiliate players, but Kodiaks' head coach Ron Johnson wasn't taking the visitors lightly. He said the call-ups would be out to impress the Delta coaches.
"They have a good scouting staff, they're a good organization, and the players they will put on ice will be [working hard]," Johnson said on game day Wednesday.
Weather permitting, the Pacific Junior Hockey League game went ahead as scheduled. The game got underway after the Langley Advance went to press.
Port Moody Panthers 1
The Kodiaks improved to 16-11-0-1 after downing the host Port Moody Panthers Saturday.
With the win, the Kodiaks strengthened their hold on second place in the PJHL's Harold Brittain Conference.
The equally hot Abbotsford Pilots hold down top spot with a 20-6-0-2 mark. The Pilots are currently riding an eight-game win streak.
In the first period against Port Moody, the Kodiaks jumped out to a 4-0 lead on goals from Samuel Ramsay (23 seconds into the game), two back-to-back from Ryan Veillet, and Tyson Solotki.
Stefan Gonzales scored 41 seconds into the second stanza to put the Kodiaks ahead 5-0.
At 11:52 of the middle frame, Port Moody's Jackson Surbey ruined Aldergrove netminder Mark Menicucci's shutout bid.
The Kodiaks' Daniel Higgs rounded out the scoring midway through the third period.
Johnson said once the score was out of reach, the Kodiaks worked on different elements of their game.
"Out of of respect for their team," Johnson said, "it was time to try different things and to give other players an opportunity on the powerplay."
The loss dropped the Panthers' record to 5-22-0-1.
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Two of the keys to the Kodiaks' recent success have been balanced scoring and a team-first attitude.
The Kodiaks have 10 players in double figures in points, and just one point separates their top scorer (Stephen Ryan with 32 points) to their second and third-leading point producers (Spencer and Scott McHaffie with 31 points apiece).
"We are about the developmental process of changing boys into men," Johnson said. "We've tried to build a teamt that's good in room, and good together on the ice_ who come together as a group of individuals, and play for each other."
Johnson said the ultimate goal is to have success in the post-season.
"I've been in the league for 11 years and my focus has always been to get to the playoffs. That's where it all matters."