The North Vancouver Wolf Pack were back at Harry Jerome on Saturday Night for Salute to Service Night, where they took on the Delta Ice Hawks.
Wolf Pack goalie Zoltan Bencsik stole the show, and the scoring party started early. Rylan Oatman started the game off hot with a goal 10 and 22 seconds into the first period. A huge statement early from the Wolf Pack, a perfect way to set the tone.
Bencsik followed this up with a few saves to keep the early lead going. Captain JJ Pickell made it three for the home side with a goal 3:19 in. With the current leading scorer on the other side of the ice, you knew Pickell and Oatman, who sat 2nd and 3rd, respectively, before the game, would start hot.
From the start, there was a feeling it would be rough, and there were many penalties back and forth to fill that statement. Even though Delta led on shots for much of the first, North Van was creating the better chances, and these Ice Hawks’ shots were all turned aside by the Wolf Pack keeper. Delta pulled it within two with a tough angle shot for Bencsik to save with five minutes to go in the first.
Within minutes of the start of the second, Delta made it 3-2, and the game was undoubtedly back on. Jared Bigelow doubled the Wolf Pack lead with a shot from the point, and the Wolf Pack had that multi–goal cushion back. A milestone was reached as it was Bigelow’s first PJHL goal. Bencsik came up with more huge saves in the second, especially on the penalty kill, to keep his team in the lead.
Before the start of the third, a corner of the ice seemed not to be up to game quality, and officials informed the teams to stay off the ice while it was being fixed. This was a lengthy delay that halted the start of the third by about 15 minutes.
When play resumed, Delta cut the lead to one early in the third. JJ Pickell restored the two–goal lead once again with the fifth goal of the night for the Wolf Pack. Delta pulled within one goal again and made it 5-4 with 10 minutes to go, but that was all the scoring they would have.
Bencsik, who made 19 shots in the third alone, helped the Wolf Pack pick up the win over their division rivals. The Wolf Pack goalie made 55 saves in the victory, which was a solid performance by all. “I’m starting to get my confidence back, and it feels great,” Bencsik added post–game. He also praised his teammates for their solid performance.
The Wolf Pack are back in action once again against Delta at the Ladner Leisure Centre on Tuesday, November 7th.