Conner Merriman is hugged by his teammates following his shootout winner to give the Hawks a 5-4 win over the Richmond Sockeyes in their first meeting of the season. Tav Morrison photo
The opening game of the annual Tunnel Series between the Delta Ice Hawks and Richmond Sockeyes did not disappoint, as the Ice Hawks took a thrilling 5-4 win in a four-round shootout.
Zach Shaughnessy set the tone, stopping 37 of 41 shots, and made a couple of saves on Richmond breakaways and 2-on-1 chances that helped keep the Hawks ahead for most of the game.
Opening the scoring, Michele Romeo netted his fourth goal in a row – carrying over from his hat trick in the Hawks’ previous game with the Trailblazers – and third in a row on the power play, taking a set up from the Merriman brothers and beating goalie Thomas Popa to give the Hawks the 1-0 lead.
Richmond tied it with just under 3 mins to go in the opening frame, with Noah Gibbons grabbing the puck behind Delta’s net and passing out front to a solo Jonathan Soares to make it 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Minutes into the second period, the Sockeyes turned it over by passing right to Brandon Petrie in the slot, and he glided in and made them pay for it, going high-blocker side and finding mesh.
The third started with a bang, as Nicholas Kolb went on a mini-breakaway on a pass from Danylo Bereza and when Popa thought he would deke left, Kolb stayed right and chipped it in over the pad for a 3-1 Hawks lead.
Richmond stormed back though, with Teo Lin, William Huo, and Gavin Sangara each scoring a goal within a five-and-a-half minute span to take their first lead of the game, 4-3, at the halfway mark of the third.
But the Hawks weren’t done, as Carson Merriman threaded the needle on a pass to Colin Jang, who threw a backhand shot on net through traffic and it found its way past Popa to tie the game at four.
The game ended up going all the way to a shootout and after three shooters, each team had one goal. Declan Warburton scored as the third shooter to keep the Hawks alive, and then Conner Merriman sealed it with a short-side shot to boost the Hawks to a 5-4 victory to open the Tunnel Series.