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Panthers poised for playoffs
The Port Moody Panthers have put themselves in a position to pounce on the final playoff spot in the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
The Panthers picked up two out of possible four points on the weekend, knocking off the Flames 3-2 in Maple Ridge Friday before falling 6-2 to the defending champion Richmond Sockeyes Saturday in Port Moody.
“Richmond got a lot of bounces in my mind. I think they had two quality goals,” said Panthers coach and GM Jamie Jackson of a pair of goals scored by Daniel Oakley. “The sixth goal was a real nice tip in front on the power play. I think their fourth goal was a nice transition counterattack and they beat our guy one on one.”
Richmond jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period where they outshot the Panthers 20-8.
“They didn’t really have a lot of chances. They got a lot of shots through but they were way outside of the dots,” said Jackson.
When the Sockeyes scored to make it 3-1 four minutes into the second period, Jackson made the switch from Liam Smith to Christian Plain in net.
“Those three goals that went in normally he stops and it just looked like it wasn’t going to be his night,” said Jackson. “I tried to change the flow of the game and wake guys up a little bit and see if we couldn’t make a comeback, but then the first two shots go in on Christian and that makes things real tough for us.”
Cole Wirch-Methorst scored both goals, with Kurt Sonne and Adam Rota each picking up a pair of assists.
“The group fought back and outshot them in the second and third and I thought we carried a lot of the play,” said Jackson. “We definitely didn’t quit but the puck wasn’t going in for them.”
Sonne scored twice and Rayne Schwinghammer added the other in the Panthers’s 3-2 win over Ridge Meadows.
“It’s funny how the game works because on Friday I felt that we got the bounces,” said Jackson. “There wasn’t a lot of quality chances for us and we were very fortunate to get the goals we did.”
Port Moody outshot the Flames 35-17, with Plain turning aside 15 shots. Port Moody jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period when the Flames scored two in 52 seconds to tie things up just past the midway point.
“We had a bit of a breakdown and they score a couple of quick ones,” said Jackson. “When you have a young team, one thing that they don’t often get is how hard you have to compete in the blue ice. It’s a tough place to be and a tough place to play. If you want to win games, at both ends, you’ve got to be able to be there and be strong.”
The Panthers currently sit in the fourth and final playoff position with 24 points in 42 games, one point up on Mission City Outlaws who have a game in hand.
The Panthers host the Abbotsford Pilots at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. Port Moody will then wrap up the regular season with a Feb. 15 home date against the Aldergrove Kodiaks.
“I think we have to win one for sure,” said Jackson. “We’ve beaten both Aldergrove and Abbotsford this year and we’ve played both those teams pretty tough. I think we can get points as long as we’re focused and hungry.”