Hosts left singing the Blues

 Richmond A1 Bantam player EJ Shaw (6) shows his skills during his Midget Division debut against Edmonton Maple Leafs. - Don Fennell photo
Richmond A1 Bantam player EJ Shaw (6) shows his skills during his Midget Division debut against Edmonton Maple Leafs.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

The Richmond Blues ran into a roadblock and out of gas Sunday at the Richmond International Midget Hockey Tournament.

After reeling off four consecutive wins in round-robin play, Richmond’s A1 team—like Canada’s juniors—were unceremoniously bounced once the playoffs got underway.

But while Canada was outplayed as well as outscored 5-1 by the U.S. Thursday at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia, the Blues territorially dominated play against Port Moody but were stymied by Panthers’ goaltender Jacob Crawford. Only Elvis Jansons, Richmond’s slick young centre and leading scorer, was able to get a puck by him, though the Blues outshot the Panthers 50-16.

“Their goalie was hot and they capitalized on a couple of bounces,” Richmond coach Glenn Wheeler said.

The Blues were also physically up against it with only 12 skaters, but still displayed plenty of desire. Their effort level impressed Wheeler.

“I definitely feel we learned a lot about our team,” he said. “The resiliency our kids showed shows what they’re capable of in certain situations. But we also learned throughout the tournament what we need to work on. Because of injuries some of the boys had to fill different roles that they were maybe not ready for.”

But while Wheeler suggested the team, with almost all first-year players were underdogs from the outset, the players themselves believed they could and should have fared better.

“If you ask any of them they believe they could have competed with Delta and Kelowna (the two finalists in the Tier 1 Division),” he said.

Wheeler said he received numerous compliments from opposing coaches about the Blues’ work ethic, which has enabled the team to stay in many games this season. They were also given kudos for their discipline.

“What it will take for us to finish this season strong is continuing to appreciate how important everyone is to the team,” Wheeler said. “It doesn’t matter what a player’s skill set is, everyone is asked to contribute. We are the sum of our parts.”


A2s strong on D

Richmond A2 Blues were also considered underdogs going into the tournament, and while they only managed a single win—defeating Edmonton’s Maple Leaf-15 AA team 4-2 Saturday—coach Jim Schuck was elated with their effort.

“For the most part we played strong defensively throughout, which is why we were able to be in almost every game,” he said.

Schuck also hopes the Blues now have a clearer picture of what it will take to reach the provincial championships.

“We’ve got to score a few more goals, so we need to go to the net a bit more,” he said.

Schuck will get a chance to see how much the Blues have learned when they play in the 12-team President’s Day tournament in Portland Feb. 15 to 18.


Isles net 3 wins

Seafair Islanders A1 battled their way to a 3-2 record at the tournament, putting an exclamation mark on their final game—an 11-0 victory over the Mission, AZ. Ice 16 Red team. Quinten Wideski paced the Islanders with four goals and three assists over the five games.

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