Devils win second straight under new coach
A modest two-game win streak has the North Delta Devils on the verge of vacating the basement of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League.
The Devils defeated the Hope Ice Breakers 5-2 Saturday night at the Sungod Arena, a result that left both teams tied for seventh place in the eight-team Junior B league, with Hope holding a game in hand.
North Delta improved its record to 10-15-2 (won-lost-overtime loss), and are just three points out of fifth place just past the midway point of the 48-game season.
The Devils ended a four-game losing streak with an 8-4 win over the Grandview Steelers on Nov. 24, their first game with new head coach Ron Johnson behind the bench.
Against the Ice Breakers, who had hammered the Devils 6-2 in Hope two weeks earlier, North Delta outshot the visitors 37-25. They led 2-0 after one period on goals by Mike Popowich and Jamie Fowler, and were ahead by three goals after 40 minutes on a tally from Aaron Mahiban.
Kye Benjaminsen’s third period score put the Devils up 4-1, and after the Ice Breakers got one goal back, Shane Goutsis scored into an empty net in the final minute of play.
Seventeen-year-old netminder Norbert Biszcak got the victory for the Devils Saturday, stopping 23 of 25 shots. It was the fifth win in 11 decisions for the Burnaby native.
After playing just once in each of the past two weeks, the Devils take to the ice three times this week. They were in Ladner last night to face the 10-15-4 Delta Ice Hawks, and tomorrow play in Richmond against the second place Sockeyes (18-7-1).
Next home game is Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. when the Grandview Steelers are the visitors.
BLUE LINES: Kyle Leung was held scoreless Saturday, but still leads the Devils in scoring with 14 goals and 27 points in 27 games.
Kyle Brown earned one assist, his team-high 14th of the season.
The Devils signed Jean Merchan to a card Monday, two days after he was released by the Junior A Surrey Eagles of the B.C. Hockey League.
The 18-year-old forward from Coquitlam played with the Devils last season. He was second in team scoring a year ago, scoring 17 goals and 35 points in 44 games played.