October is a big month for the Squamish Wolfpack Junior B team with 10 games and an opportunity to pull themselves out of last place of the Tom Shaw Conference of the PIJHL.
So far, so good. Squamish won its first game against Aldergrove 5-3 on Oct. 2, then battled Ridge Meadows to an overtime loss on Oct. 8. They were destroyed by the Abbotsford pilots 8-2 on Oct. 9, one of the top teams in the league this year, setting up Monday's game in Whistler against the Port Moody Panthers.
The Wolfpack fell behind by two goals early, but managed to rally and finish the second period tied 2-2. Both teams scored twice in the third period, with the Wolfpack adding a rare power play goal to their tally. They also killed off a penalty with just four-and-a-half minutes remaining to send the game to overtime. The teams kept it even for the five-minute overtime period, which then sent the game to the shootout. Konrad Sander and Ryan Niederkorn scored for the Wolfpack, but it was a goal by Whistler's own Matthew Bonin - a rookie on the Wolfpack - that made the difference and gave the Wolfpack their third win this season.
The Wolfpack were outshot 53 to 40 over the course of the evening, but aside from some fighting in the second period it was a clean, fast game with just eight penalties from start to finish - five of them in the second period. The Wolfpack killed all five penalties against them.
Trevor Kang was the top Wolfpack player, scoring two goals and assisting on another. Konrad Sander scored one goal and assisted on two. Ryan Niederkorn scored the other regular time goal for Squamish and added one assist. Marcus Chabot came away with two assists, and Trevor Parkhouse and Gray Meckling each earned one assist.
"I thought it was an exciting hockey game," said Wolfpack coach Matt Samson. "And I thought that we showed a lot of character coming back. It was big win for us and hopefully gave us some energy and motivation heading into next weekend."
The Wolfpack are hosting North Delta on Oct. 16 at Brennan Park, then hosting the Grandview Steelers the following Friday, Oct. 22 at Meadow Park.
The Wolfpack hasn't played either team yet, although they'll play 13 matches against the two teams by the end of the season.
"Those are the two teams that are closest to us in our division, and a lot can happen," said Samson. "We're not even a quarter of the way through the year, and those are two big games for us. North Delta is a team we don't have a great record against historically, but we have had a lot of close games against them and it's a new year. Grandview is the next team up the ladder from us, so we need to do well there as well (to make the playoffs).
"So far I'm disappointed with how we've played at home, but I think after next week we'll get the swagger back and make Squamish - and Whistler - a place where teams don't want to play because they know they're in for a tough game every time they step on the ice."
The Whistler Game takes place on Friday, Oct. 22, with the puck dropping at 8:15 p.m. The price is $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
Samson was disappointed with the turnout on Monday, but is hoping to see a far bigger turnout for a Friday night matchup, and a level of hockey that's just one step down from Junior A.