Sports

Devils bounced from PIJHL playoffs

North Delta Devil Ryan Koenig (left) evades a check by Trevin Sewell of the Grandview Steelers, who ended up head-first into the boards during a Jr. B playoff hockey game at the Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday afternoon. - BOAZ JOSEPH  THE LEADER
North Delta Devil Ryan Koenig (left) evades a check by Trevin Sewell of the Grandview Steelers, who ended up head-first into the boards during a Jr. B playoff hockey game at the Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday afternoon.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH THE LEADER

The North Delta Devils’ playoff run has ended in the first round, as they lost the best-of-seven series 4-1 to the Grandview Steelers.

Monday, the Devils out shot the Steelers 45-34, but still lost 7-1 in the Vancouver team’s temporary home, the Burnaby Winter Club.

“Their goal scorers did their jobs and ours didn’t,” said Devils’ coach Ron Johnson.

“We were victims of circumstances and fate. We hit three goal posts. We had five breakaways where we were right in on the goaltender and couldn’t bury our chances. We had three open nets, including one where the puck spun on the goal line and didn’t go over.”

In fact, the Devils lacked puck luck throughout the series.

“It was the worst series of puck luck I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said.

In Sunday’s 6-3 Steelers’ win, a Grandview player lost his stick in the Devils’ crease just before a shot was taken from the point. The puck hit the dropped stick and bounced up and over goalie Joshua Krenus’ shoulder and into the net.

“It’s the most frustrating thing as a coach and a player because you feel like the game has been taken out of your hand, not by the referee or anybody else, but by circumstances,” Johnson said.

North Delta entered the Pacific International Junior Hockey League playoffs as a decided underdog, having finished the regular season with a 18-27-0-3 record compared to the Steelers’ 26-19-0-3 record.

Still, the Devils opened the series with high hopes and split the first two games. Grandview won the opener 6-3 on Feb. 26, while Delta took the second game 4-3 the next night.

And Delta remained optimistic following Game 3 after a close 3-2 loss on Saturday.

But then the hockey gods conspired against the Devils, allowing Grandview to double up Delta 6-3 on Sunday.

“We out shot them in every game that we played and we (had more opportunities), but we just didn’t bury our chances,” Johnson said.

Still, Johnson is pleased with the team’s performance.

“I was very happy with how we came together as a team,” he said. “We had games that we were down, but this team never quit. I was very impressed with their attitudes – they’re a great group of guys.”

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