Sockeyes steamroll Steelers, 9-1

Grandview’s Kori Belanger was the lone Steeler to score Feb. 4. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

Grandview rookie Belanger: ‘Defence is just pride…that’s what we need’

Steeler Pav Bandesha chats with Sockeye Zach Zapanta. (A. Burns / GRA Steelers)

BURNABY WINTER CLUB – Are cannonballs allowed in Pacific Junior ‘A’ rinks? All kidding aside, creative solutions are sorely needed to stop the 2023-2024 Richmond Sockeyes juggernaut.

The Sockeyes – still with only one regulation loss this season – defeated the Steelers 9-1 Feb. 4. Richmond got on the board early when blue liner Jonathan Soares stepped up into the slot to rip a shot past Grandview goalie Shayan Kermany.

After Sockeye Kai McComb put away back-to-back goals, teammate Justin Grant activated beast mode. He put the game out of reach with a rare feat: a natural hat trick in a single shift. Grant’s scoring prowess took only 41 seconds, or faster than the public-address announcements.

Early in the third, Steeler Steven Konechny was thwarted on a breakaway by Sockeye goalie Noah Stenvig. The Richmond back-up netminder faced 21 shots for his sixth straight win between the pipes since being picked up in December.

Meanwhile, Shayan Kermany saw a total of 43 shots. His goals-against-average is now 3.97.

Belanger breaks shutout bid

Steeler rookie Kori Belanger was the lone bright light for the faithful. Since he returned from a top prospects game in Kamloops in November 2023, Belanger acknowledged that his confidence has increased during the ensuing months.

Tanner Milne. (A. Burns / GRA Steelers)

On the defensive side, the 16-year-old fearlessly skated to the high slot and blocked a slapshot from Sockeye defenceman Cody Matsuo.

At the other end of the rink, he snapped home a feed from linemate Tanner Milne to break Stenvig’s bid for a shutout. The goal was Belanger’s seventh of the season.

“Defence is just pride,” Belanger pointed out. “That’s why, especially coming up to the playoffs here, that’s what we need.”

He also noted the bonds he has created with his two linemates. Belanger said that veteran Tanner Milne – Grandview’s leading scorer with 46 points – was “an absolute beast on the forecheck.”

The rookie also named Colby Longeau as his “favourite guy on the team” for his work winning battles in the corners.

Postseason update

At press time, the Steelers had a record of .500 – 22 wins, 22 losses and two shootout losses for a total of 46 points.

Grandview will finish in fifth place in the Tom Shaw Conference and are slated to lace up against the fourth-seeded White Rock Whalers in a best-of-three playoff series.

The Whalers – as the higher seed – will host two out of the three games. The postseason will begin after the Steelers conclude the 2023-2024 regular season at home against the Port Moody Panthers Feb. 11.

As soon as we have dates and times for round one, we’ll let you know via this website and our social media (X, Instagram).

Inside Steeltown post-game interview

Rookie Kori Belanger chats about his progression since November.