Victories over the weakest teams in the Pacific Junior Hockey League have helped the North Delta Devils tighten their hold on a playoff position in the Tom Shaw Conference.
The Junior B team edged the Mission City Outlaws last Thursday night in Mission, then topped the Port Moody Panthers 4-3 Saturday night in the Sungod Arena. The Outlaws and Port Moody have combined for just 10 wins this season, and are at the bottom of the Harold Brittain Conference standings.
The Devils also played to a 2-2 tie with the Delta Ice Hawks Tuesday night in Ladner.
North Delta improved their record to 14-10-2-1 (won-lost-overtime loss-tied), and are in third place in the five-team Tom Shaw Conference, five points up on the Grandview Steelers and seven ahead of the last-place North Vancouver Wolfpack. Only the last place teams in each conference miss the postseason.
Port Moody put a scare in the Devils Saturday night, leading 2-0 after 20 minutes despite getting outshot 14-9. Eric Kulla was in the North Delta goal, but was replaced by Tyler Read after the second Panthers goal.
North Delta dominated the final two periods, holding a 40-11 shots on goal advantage and scoring four consecutive goals.
Arvin Atwal and Benjamin Vikich tallied while on the power play in the second period to tie the game 2-2. Blake Gorrill put North Delta in the lead five minutes into the third, and Eben Norman notched the winner with nine minutes left.
The Panthers got one back with two minutes remaining in the game, but couldn’t get a second goal on Read, an 18-year-old White Rock native who got credit for the win in a backup role.
North Delta also had a huge edge in play Thursday in Mission, but it wasn’t until the second period they took the lead. Devon Elford opened the scoring, then Marco Romano made it 2-0 10 minutes later.
The Pilots cut the difference to 2-1 after two periods, but Joshua Smith’s power play goal with less than five minutes to play stood up as the winner. Kurt Thrussell scored for Mission with three minutes to go.
Sky Buller played his first game of the season in goal for North Delta, making 26 of 28 saves.
Atwal and Colin Catchpole were the goalscorers for the Devils Tuesday in Ladner, with Read stopping 49 of 51 shots.
North Delta will host the 11-11-1-0 Aldergrove Kodiaks at 6:45 p.m. Saturday in the Sungod Arena, then face-off against the Grandview Steelers Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Burnaby Winter Club.