By extending their season-best win streak to four games, the North Delta Devils are starting to put some distance between themselves and the Tom Shaw Conference basement.
The Devils stopped the Port Moody Black Panthers 6-3 Monday night at the Port Moody Arena, improving to 5-0-1 (won-lost-tied) in their last six starts in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League.
“We’re starting to figure things out,” said Devils head coach Grant Armstrong. “The guys are buying into what the coaches are telling them as to how to play the game. They try things, it works, and they get a lot of confidence.”
Now at 11-7-4 near the midway point of the season, North Delta is in third place, five points up on both the North Vancouver Timberwolves and the slumping Grandview Steelers. Only the last place team in the five-team Tom Shaw Conference won’t make the playoffs.
“I don’t usually focus on the standings until the team is where it should be,” said Armstrong. “We’re not clear of the two teams behind us, but we’re not looking behind us, we’re looking ahead.”
Stefan Burzan put North Delta ahead just 82 seconds into the game, and before the first period was over, Adam Nishi and Jacob Wensley set each other up for goals to lift the visitors to a 3-0 lead.
Outshot 16-4 in the opening frame, Port Moody fired 30 shots at the Devils’ goal over the final 40 minutes, and by the five-minute mark of the third period had tied the game 3-3.
Wensley got the winner with eight minutes to play, then Matthew Tilton added an insurance goal just six seconds later. Burzan closed out the scoring with his second of the game with just 18 seconds left on the clock.
North Delta netminder Harry Fredeman turned aside 31 of the 24 shots for the win, his eighth in 13 decisions.
The Devils host the Richmond Sockeyes at 6:45 p.m. Saturday night in the Sungod Arena. The Sockeyes lead the league with a 20-2-0 record, one of the two losses a 6-4 setback to the Devils last Thursday in Richmond.
“Richmond will be a big test,” said Armstrong. “We’re on a bit of a roll, so we know we can do it.”