Tuesday night was a tough one for the Delta Ice Hawks, falling 6-3 to the league-leading North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
It was a tight game through two periods, with the score tied 3-3 going into the third, as Jordy Engleson, who made 46 saves on 52 shots, kept the Hawks in it. Head coach Steve Robinson recognized how much his goaltender made a difference.
“I know the way [Engleson]’s hardened himself, he’ll look at six goals and say he had a terrible game, but I think anyone who’s watching knows that he’s the only reason that the game was still a game,” he said. “He’s stellar and we’ve just got to find a way to support him better and make him feel like there’s a balance where the team is fighting just as hard as he is.”
“We were right there hanging in, but at the end of the day, you take too many penalties against that team, the power play is tops in the league for a reason and they execute at 33-35 per cent, so one of every three, they’re going to score… There were some good things, but ultimately, we’ve got a lot of work to do to be in their weight class,” added Robinson.
The Ice Hawks went on the power play 26 seconds into the game, but it was the Wolf Pack who capitalized during those two minutes. Dominic Davis netted the first goal of the game shorthanded for North Van, giving them an early lead.
Halfway through the period, Jordin Kojima knotted it up at one, grabbing a loose puck in the slot and quickly backhanding it home.
North Van took the lead back before the end of the frame, on a power play goal on a clean shot from Conner Jollymore.
The second period saw just as much action with three goals, but two for the Ice Hawks this time around.
Kojima got things started, tying up the game 2-2 by tapping in a pass from Ji-Hwan Kim, who hustled down the ice to beat his defender to a loose puck and set up Kojima beautifully.
Penalties proved to be an issue for the Ice Hawks in the middle frame, but Jordy Engleson stood tall for the Hawks, making some jaw-dropping saves. Eventually though, the North Van offence broke through, with Jacob Fournier scoring on a man-advantage.
Not long after the Wolf Pack’s go-ahead goal, the Hawks tied it up again, this time on the power play. Brad Fortin found Kim in the slot and he went across to Mark Epshtein, who waited out Bradley Cooper and wired one high-glove side to make it 3-3.
The see-saw battle continued in the third period, with Davis scoring 52 seconds in while the Wolf Pack were on the power play to give them a 4-3 lead.
Jack Steffens sealed the win for the Wolf Pack with a quick one-time tapper, on a pass from the corner, off the far post and in.
North Van added another late in the third, with Trenym Confortin wristing one on net in the slot and while Engleson got a piece, a funny bounce off him ends up in the net.
The loss leaves Delta just hanging on to fourth place in the Tom Shaw Conference, two points ahead of the White Rock Whalers and four behind the third-place Richmond Sockeyes.
Robinson hopes to redirect him team back to the winning side of things on Saturday night in Mission against the Outlaws.
“We did some good work climbing our way back into the race for second and third, and now these losses have kind of set us back, so we need to get back on the winning track and get feeling good about our game. It’s really important to get a win on Saturday night and get the boys back in a better mindset.”
Saturday’s game is at 6:45 at the Mission Leisure Centre.