Colin Jang celebrates with Yuji Akimoto after Akimoto’s first of three goals in the game, as he led the Ice Hawks to a 9-1 win over the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
2023 has been kind to the Delta Ice Hawks so far, with the Hawks coming away with a 9-1 win on home ice against the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, following a 7-6 win against the Richmond Sockeyes on January 1.
Five of the Hawks’ goals on Tuesday night came from defensemen, including a hat trick from Yuji Akimoto.
Brayden Sinclair made a charge into the zone and dished off to Colin Jang for a shot, stopped by Charlie Tritt, and following a few shots, the puck ended up at the top of the slot on Yuji Akimoto’s stick. His quick shot found mesh; the defensemen’s ninth goal of the season made it 1-0 Delta.
Sinclair was again involved in an Akimoto goal, this time with under a minute left in the period. He broke out of the Hawks’ zone with the puck and pulled up when he entered the Wolf Pack’s end. Looking around, he spotted Akimoto on the far side and fired a pass his way. Akimoto appeared to be making a pass of his own when the puck went off a skate in front and into the net for his second goal of the game.
The Hawks added to their lead early and often in the second – three minutes in, Kyle Robinson won a puck battle down low in the Delta zone and fed it up to Payton Hu. Hu saw a streaking Conner Merriman on the far wing and sailed a pass up for him. Merriman purely outskated his defenseman and sent a backhand over the shoulder of Tritt.
A couple minutes later, Jang won a faceoff in the in North Vancouver’s zone, and Joslin grabbed the puck and fired it towards the net. Another favourable bounce for the home team resulted in Joslin’s fifth goal of the year, the Hawks’ third goal by a defenseman in the game.
The third Ice Hawks goal in three minutes came on the stick of Merriman, following a set up and pass through the slot from Akimoto. Merriman was right on the doorstep for his twenty-sixth goal, the third highest total in the league.
At about the halfway mark of the period, the Hawks were pressing in the Wolf Pack zone and Merriman won the puck back from a defender. He found Alec Scouras, who wove his way through some Wolf Pack players to eventually find Ryan Bal powering in and he scored, ending Tritt’s night in net and making it 6-0 Delta.
Hawks AP Bennett Muller opened the third period with a beauty of a goal, skating up with Sinclair for a 2-on-1 and deciding to keep the puck. His shot went off the far post and in for his first PJHL goal.
North Vancouver would eventually break Zach Shaughnessy’s shutout, with a goal from JJ Pickell that somehow snuck through a few bodies and went five-hole on the Hawks goalie, who ended up stopping 24 of 25 shots in the game.
Delta continued to add to the scoresheet, with Danylo Bereza stealing a puck on the forecheck and quickly passing out front to a wide-open Jang for a one-timer to make it an 8-1 game.
Akimoto got his hat trick goal with six minutes left in the game; he went one way when Ty Fletcher went the other with the puck. Akimoto snuck in behind everyone and Fletcher hit him with a perfect pass to send him on a partial breakaway and he beat Zoltan Bencsik for his third of the game and eleventh of the season.