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Sockeyes' game rounding into form

Matt Wagner and the Richmond Sockeyes renew acquaintances with the North Delta Devils Thursday at Minoru Arenas. Faceoff is 7:30 p.m.  - Don Fennell photo
Matt Wagner and the Richmond Sockeyes renew acquaintances with the North Delta Devils Thursday at Minoru Arenas. Faceoff is 7:30 p.m.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

Adam Nishi has yet to play his first game as a Richmond Sockeye, but already his presence is being felt.

Acquired last week from the North Delta Devils for future considerations, the 19-year-old hometown product gives the Sockeyes eight defencemen—and equally important another strong veteran presence on a blueline that features three rookies.

"That gives us eight healthy d-men now and as a group they probably had the best practice they've had all season on Sunday," said Richmond head coach Aaron Wilbur.

That augurs well for the Sockeyes going forward. Six points back of Pacific International Junior Hockey League-leading Delta Ice Hawks going into this Thursday's (7:30 p.m. face-off at Minoru Arenas) versus North Delta, the Sockeyes are coming off an 8-1 whitewash of the Ridge Meadows Flames last week. Wilbur called the victory one of the most complete efforts of the year.

"We played a full 60 minutes with consistent contributions from all four lines and defencemen," said Wilbur. "There was a real rhythm to our game and I'm definitely starting to see a bit of identity formed within our group—just understanding how we want play and more importantly how their strengths and skill sets fit into that."

But Wilbur pointed to another key reason why the Sockeyes seem to be getting their game back in order.

"We're healthy again," he said, noting that a combination of injuries and players moving up to Junior A teams has been a constant almost from the first game this season.

Wilbur expects a determined effort from North Delta on Thursday. The Devils are coming off an inspiring 3-2 victory over Delta on Saturday and will also want to reverse the score the last time they played Richmond, which the Sockeyes won 5-3 Nov. 10.

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