The inaugural All-Star Game between the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) and the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) did not disappoint. It was a tight game throughout the 60 minutes, and needed overtime to decide a winner, with the PJHL coming away with a 7-6 win.
There was some fantastic goaltending in this game from Cale Dolan, Bradley Cooper, Jacob Bennett, and James Brendeland, but the score implicated just how much talent there was in this game.
Richmond Sockeye Ryleigh Anderson got Team PJHL on the board first, taking a pass up the right wing, easily beating his defender, and scoring top shelf over the glove of Oceanside General Brendeland.
Later in the period, Team PJHL added to their lead, as North Vancouver’s Jacob Callas made a beautiful move then passed cross-slot to Delta Icehawk Mark Epshtein, who completed the play with an easy tap-in.
Team VIJHL got on the board before the end of the first frame – the Wolf Pack’s Cooper stopped a shot by Dawson Heathcote, but Tanner Wort was right there to jam it home and cut the PJHL’s lead to 2-1 after 20 minutes.
The PJHL regained their two-goal lead when White Rock’s Calder Newson found an open Sahvan Gill, an Abbotsford Pilot, alone in the slot. Gill made no mistake, beating Brendeland to make it a 3-1 game.
Saanich’s Jake Wilhelm brought Team VIJHL back within one, carrying the puck into the PJHL’s zone and finishing off the play himself, beating Cooper.
Braden Warburton of the Langley Trappers let go of an absolute cannon from the right point on a PJHL power play later on in the period to give his team a 4-2 lead.
The VIJHL continued the seesaw battle when Peninsula’s Riley Braun scored his first of the night with a steal in the opposing zone, a quick deke past a defenseman, and a wrister far corner.
After a battle on the PJHL blue line, Craig Schouten of the Richmond Sockeyes came away with the puck and went nearly end-to-end, scoring low-blocker side on new VIJHL goalie Bennett of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
Anderson scored again, this time in the middle frame, dragging the puck past a sprawling Bennett to give the PJHL a 6-3 lead.
Teammates Braun and Josh Lingard from the Peninsula Panthers teamed up to score one more in the second period. Lingard broke into the PJHL end and passed across to Braun for his second of the game.
Braun completed the hat trick early in the third period, one-timing a cross-ice pass past Dolan to make it 6-5 PJHL.
Grandview’s Dolan made some big saves throughout the third period, but Lingard broke through with just three minutes left in the period to tie the game 6-6.
The game ended up in overtime, but not for long. Just 36 seconds into the extra time, Epshtein saucered a pass to his former teammate and current North Vancouver Wolf Pack member Alex Suprynowicz, who went on a breakaway and scored blocker side to win the game.
Next year, the All-Star Game will be hosted on the Island, while the Prospects Game will be played in the Lower Mainland.