They’re at .500 very early in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League season.
But the North Delta Devils are “a long way from where we need to be,” according to head coach Grant Armstrong.
“We haven’t come together as a unit,” he said, citing Tuesday night’s 5-0 loss in Ladner to the Delta Ice Hawks as an example. “We’re working in practice to get everyone to buy into the systems. But we’re young. Delta had nine 20 year-olds and we had three.”
Age aside, Armstrong is happy with the group of players in the Devils black-and-red uniforms, saying it will take some time for the young players to “fit in and feel comfortable.”
The inexperience showed against the Ice Hawks, as North Delta was outshot 41-20 and dominated play for all 60 minutes. John Proctor put the home side ahead 1-0 after 20 minutes, Bryon Maxwell and Anthony Brito tallied in the second period, then Kody Botterill and Spencer Traher added to the total in the third.
Armstrong listed 17-year-old Aldergrove native Jacob Wensley and 18-year-old Levi De Waal of Coquitlam as two rookie forwards who have handled the adjustment to junior hockey well.
After Tuesday’s frustrating loss, things don’t get any easier for the Devils tonight. They are on the road to face the Richmond Sockeyes, who have not only won each of the four games they have played this season, but have posted shutouts in all four games as well while outscoring the opposition 31-0.
“It’s quite a feat,” admitted Armstrong. “They have a mix of young and old, all with a lot of skill.
“But they haven’t really played anyone yet.”
Three of Richmond’s four wins have come against the Mission Ice Breakers and Ridge Meadows Flames, two teams off to 0-5 starts.
After tonight’s game in Richmond, the Devils face-off against the Grandview Steelers Sunday afternoon at the Burnaby Winter Club.