Slaferek’s true grit lances Knights, 5-2

Cam Northard (left) chats with Surrey’s Ryder Mathieson Oct. 15. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

Zarek Slaferek. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

Mature Steeler notches two points in 5-2 home victory

BURNABY WINTER CLUB – Not many rookies enter Jr. ‘A’ hockey at the advanced age of 19.

But during the past two years – a lifetime for a young man – Grandview Steeler Zarek Slaferek embarked on an odyssey to return from a knee injury. Through countless hours of physio, gym time, and stick-and-puck, his true grit eventually bloomed into a junior roster spot.

“I really wanted to have a good bounce back year, play with a good organization,” Slaferek said. “I bring a really physical game.”

His way back culminated in an impressive performance during a 5-2 win over the Surrey Knights Oct 15. Twelve minutes into the first period, he scored Grandview’s first goal.

Linemate Ryan Zhang (also a rookie) fed Slaferek at the side of the crease; he pulled off a “little dipsy-doodle” and tucked the puck in. Slaferek also assisted on the last goal – a Zhang empty netter.

Rookie Ryan Zhang. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

Meanwhile, Knight Ryden Mathieson put Surrey ahead with his powerful skating. First, he streaked down the right wing and snapped a shot past Steeler goalie Ronin Geraghty. Then, Mathieson crashed the crease to put the Knights up 2-1.

Geraghty ‘thankful’ for teammates who blocked shots

However, it took the Steelers only eight seconds to take the lead for good in the third period. Veteran Luke Cox finished off a three-way passing play from rookie Oliver Nottingham and Steven Konechny.

Later, Zhang’s backhand into the empty net was his first of the season.

“I just want to personally improve my game and become a smarter player,” Zhang said. “And I think Grandview can really help me with that.”

Overall, the Steelers had a solid night on special teams. They went 0-for-2 on the man advantage but also killed off all three power plays for the Knights.

The latter included a 5-on-3 chance for Surrey for 22 seconds. As Knights and Steelers swarmed Geraghty’s crease, the 19-year-old slid into a snow angel pose to keep the puck out.

Goalie Ronin Geraghty. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

“I made the saves that I had to make. It was a huge team effort,” Geraghty said. “Fifteen blocked shots today for the boys, I can’t be thankful enough for that.”

The netminder faced 31 shots and picked up his fourth win of the season.

Standings update

At press time, Oct. 16, the Steelers had a record of six wins, four losses and a lone shootout loss for a total of 13 points – tied for fifth place – in the seven-team Tom Shaw Conference.

Inside Steeltown post-game interviews:

Steeler Zarek Slaferek on his two-year odyssey to Grandview.

Steeler Ryan Zhang and his linemates are hungry for opportunities.

CCM Three Stars for Oct. 15

Third star: SUR # 18 Ryden Mathieson (two goals).

Second star: GRA # 7 Ryan Zhang (one goal, one assist).

First star: GRA # 9 Luke Cox (game-winning goal).