League-leading Kodiaks bear down on foes

The Aldergrove Kodiaks’ lead on the Richmond Sockeyes in the battle for top spot in the Pacific Junior Hockey League is a slim one.

With 64 points, the Harold Brittain Conference-leading Kodiaks (30-6-2-2) are one point better than the Tom Shaw Conference-frontrunning Sockeyes (29-5-3), who hold a game at hand.

Both teams will easily capture their regular season conference titles and both have won their past two games.

Kodiaks 7, Mission City Outlaws 2

The Kodiaks built leads of 3-0 after the first period and 5-2 after 40 minutes before adding two goals in the third to cruise to an easy win Thursday at the Mission Leisure Centre.

Aldergrove centre Adam Callegari dominated, scoring five times and adding an assist. With 24 goals and 40 assists, Callegari sits second in PJHL scoring behind his linemate Stephen Ryan, who has run away with the points title with 38 goals, 42 assists, and a whopping 80 points. 

For his part, Ryan had three assists.

Spencer Unger, who tacked on four assists, and Elvis Jansons also scored for the Kodiaks. The trio of Callegari, Ryan, and Unger combined for 14 points versus the Outlaws, who sit last in the five-team Harold Brittain with a 9-27-3-2 mark.

Kodiaks 5, Richmond Sockeyes 4

In boxing terms, Wednesday’s showdown between the two PJHL heavyweights would have been deemed a split decision in favour of the Kodiaks.

A third period surge from the Kodiaks, who scored a trio of goals 4:12 apart, erased a 4-2 deficit and lifted the Aldergrove junior Bs to a 5-4 win over the visiting Sockeyes at Aldergrove Arena.

“I thought we did a good job of having a good start to the [third] period,” Kodiaks head coach Brad Rihela said. “We created some momentum but after they scored [to move ahead 4-2], I was happy with the composure we showed. We played our game, banging away at loose pucks, and we were able to come out with a win.”

The loss to the Kodiaks snapped the Sockeyes’ 16-game undefeated streak.

“We try to approach every game with the same mindset but there’s no question that, with Richmond being on a 16-game win streak, we wanted to be the team that was able to finish that,” Rihela said. “They have a fantastic team over there, and when you win 16 games in a row, that isn’t a fluke. We were definitely ready for the challenge.”

Ryan got the comeback started when he scored Aldergrove’s third goal of the game at the 3:17 mark of the third period.

Ryan’s second of the night, scored 1:13 later, tied the game at 4-4.

“He’s a great player for us who stepped up in the third period made and some high-end plays that resulted in goals,” Rihela said, regarding Ryan, a 19-year-old winger from Langley. “He’s got a ton of skill but what impresses me most about him is his compete level. I see him as a player that will get a shot in the B.C. Hockey League next year. The sky’s the limit for that kid.”

The Kodiaks’ Jonathan Philley completed the comeback by scoring the winner with 10:55 remaining in regulation time.

Jansons and Aaron Markin scored the other goals for the Kodiaks, who trailed 3-2 after two periods of play and fell behind 4-2 after the Sockeyes’ Mac Colasimone scored 3:17 into the final frame.

Aldergrove outshot Richmond 39-32.

Rihela said that it doesn’t matter if it’s the mighty Sockeyes or some of the bottom tiered teams in the PJHL, every game is up for grabs.

“There’s quite a bit of parity in the league,” Rihela said. “Every game is tough. There are no easy games and we try to approach them the same. We want to come out with two points every time we have a game.”

ICE CHIPS: The Kodiaks have four games left in their season, and next host the Ridge Meadows Flames Wednesday (Feb. 5) at Aldergrove Arena. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

The Flames from Maple Ridge, 16-19-2-3 and third in the Harold Brittain, are struggling lately, having lost their past four games.

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