February 17, 2020
The first round of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs are now underway.
The Tom Shaw Conference quarter-finals are being played between #1 North Van and #4 White Rock, and #2 Richmond Sockeyes and #3 Grandview Steelers. In the Harold Brittain Conference, it’s #1 Langley Trappers vs #4 Mission Outlaws, and #2 Aldergrove Kodiaks vs #3 Ridge Meadows Flames.
To date, the Kodiaks have already advanced on 4 straight wins. North Van leads White Rock 2-1, and the other two series are tied at 1-1.
But the big story in the league this year has been the remarkable, record setting season posted by the North Vancouver Wolf Pack. Here’s a review of their year, by the team’s media man, Giancarlo Nadeau –
By Giancarlo Nadeau
2019-2020, A SEASON IN REVIEW
Although it was the first year as head coach for Matt Samson, his last season was just as enjoyable. Matt went from going all the way to the Cyclone Taylor Cup as an assistant coach last year to running a team with the best ever PJHL record (40-3-0-1). It is safe to say that Matt has had a great deal of success. This has by far been the best season for the North Vancouver Wolf Pack and their success this season deserves to be remembered. Below you will read some of the highlights of the season for the team and for individual players, which range from Barker becoming Captain to the team finishing with their best record, of 40 wins.
BARKER NAMED CAPTAIN
“For the strength of the Pack is in the Wolf,
And the strength of the Wolf is in the Pack”
– Rudyard Kipling
The 20 year old native from North Vancouver was named the team’s 10th Captain on May 15th 2019. When asked how it feels Lucas is quick to say that, “it is an honour and it is definitely cool but the ‘C’ could have gone to anyone as everyone on this team is a leader.” Barker would have a huge impact on the Pack and he would finish the season with 40 goals and 34 assists.
FREDERICK BROTHERS TO PLAY TOGETHER
Sam Frederick (20) and his younger brother Nick Frederick (17) had the chance to play on the same team together, for the very first time. Nick was listed as an AP last year but never had the chance to play.
Both players said that it has been a great experience playing together and that they have created memories that they will have for the rest of their lives. An easy commute and good chemistry are two other reasons why they love playing together.
Sam was quick to compliment his brother by saying that although his brother is younger his work ethic is incredible, in turn Nick responded by saying that he has really enjoyed the time together.
PACK GETS FIRST WIN OF SEASON
On September 4, 2019 the Wolf Pack played their first game of the season that saw the Wolf Pack head to Aldergrove to take on the Kodiaks.
At the 16:45 mark of the first period and on the Power Play, Alex Suprynowicz scored the game’s first goal and what would also be the first of many goals for the Wolf Pack.
Jacob Fournier and Lucas Barker were the first two players to be awarded assists. Although the Pack did not manage to score again in the first period, they would find a way to get three goals in the second (JOLLYMORE, HAAKSMA, WONG), and one in the third (SUPRYNOWICZ).
North Van would finish the game with a 5-2 win. Lucas Wong (1G, 1A) was the first star, Alex Suprynowicz (2G) was named the second star and Conner Jollymore (1G, 1A) took home third star honours. Who would have known that a dominant performance in Aldergrove would set the tone for the rest of the season?
PACK SUFFER FIRST AND ONLY OVERTIME LOSS
A team this good won’t lose much so when they do, their losses should be brought up.
On October 14 the Wolf Pack hosted the White Rock Whalers and on October 14 the Wolf Pack would lose their second game of the season. It was a hard fought game by the Wolf Pack as they came back from a 4-1 deficit capped off by a game tying goal by Nate Haaksma with a minute left in the 3rd.
The Whalers would be awarded the extra point when Hayden Dance sealed the deal at the 2:18 mark of the second overtime period and even though the Wolf Pack came up on the wrong end it was one of many comebacks the team would have throughout the season showing that this team would not give up.
However, this loss kicked off one of the greatest stretches in PJHL history as the Wolf Pack would go on to win 27 straight games.
LUCAS WONG FREES THE TEDDY BEARS
“I was pretty surprised when I scored the goal to be honest…I shot it, picked a corner and it went in, so I was pretty happy about that.” – Lucas Wong
On December 14 the team hosted their first ever Teddy Bear Toss. The Pack took on the White Rock Whalers who were the last team to beat the Pack.
It looked like White Rock had a chance to beat North Van again as they had a 2-0 lead to start the second period and were just simply the better team. However,that all changed when Lucas Wong broke up a Whalers pass and gave the puck to Alex Suprynowicz who skated for a little bit before passing to Lucas Wong who was bolting to the Whalers net.
Lucas Wong snuck the puck past the glove of Whalers goalie Jonathan Holloway, and that shot would free the bears.
If fans remembered anything from that game they would most likely remember the way the bears were taken off the ice.
In most Teddy Bear Toss games staff members remove the bears but in this game, the Wolf Pack players did it. It was quite a funny process to watch as all the players on the bench joined their teammates to sweep all the bears to the corner of the rink, by the gate. Players would sweep bears to the corner while other players would pick the bears up and throw them off the ice.
When asked about this painful looking process Lucas Wong said, “Looking back it was quite funny to do. Most teams have their staff members do it but Matt had all of us [players] do it. It took a few minutes to remove all of the bears but it was fun. Hopefully we find an easier way to do it next season.”
After that exciting goal was scored the Whalers restored their 2 goal lead but the Pack responded by netting two more goals from Justin Yee-Kozukan and Alex Suprynowicz late in the middle frame.
After forty minutes both teams were tied at 3. Lucas Barker got the game winner at 1:23 of the third period and his buddy Jacob Fournier picked up an assist.
The final goal of the night came at the 12:46 mark of the third period when Justin Yee-Kozukan fed the puck to Jacob Fournier. Jacob would give the Wolf Pack a 5-3 lead and that would be the end of the goals.
North Van would get their 27th win of the season, and extend their winning streak to 15 and the big North Van crowd that showed up that night went home in jolly spirits.
WOLF PACK GET TWO MORE WINS IN WINTER CLASSIC TOURNAMENT
During the weekend of January 3-5, the Wolf Pack participated in the 2020 PJHL Winter Classic from Minoru Arena.
The Pack played two games during the tournament. The first game was against the Grandview Steelers while North Van played the role of the home team against the tournament host Richmond Sockeyes, in their second game.
Both games were filled with goals and had playoff atmospheres.
Grandview and North Van battled each other to kick off the tournament. The Pack got its goals from Barker, Callas, Wong, Stack and two goals from Alex Suprynowicz to give them a 6-4 win. North Van showed Grandview why they are the best in the league as they recorded their 30th win of the season.
Ryan Stack (1G, 2A, 3P) would earn player of the game honours for the Wolf Pack. North Van would finish their tournament Sunday night against the Richmond Sockeyes.
“I was looking at the clock and there wasn’t much time left, Suprynowicz saw me from across the ice and I knew he was gonna pass it. He threw it right on the tape and I just tried to throw it because I knew there wasn’t much time left.”
– Nate Haaksma on scoring the game winning goal
The Pack played in the first game of the tournament so it is only fitting that they would play in the last game, as well. This was arguably the best game of the Wolf Pack season.
Unlike the game against Grandview, goals were not as popular. Only one goal would be scored in the first twenty minutes but it was a goal that put the good guys up by 1. Alex Suprynowicz gave his team a 1-0 lead to start the second period.
In the second period, none of the Pack players were able to beat Sockeyes goalie Braedy Euerby but two Sockeye players were able to sneak the puck past North Van goalie Bradley Cooper. The score favoured the Sockeyes 2-1 after the first 40 minutes.
It took until 11:47 of the third period for Ryan Stack to tie the game at two. From that goal onwards North Van dominated the Sockeyes in terms of shots and possession. Hoping on winning the game in regulation the Pack started to press more and more.
With less than ten seconds remaining, Alex Suprynowicz took the puck out of the corner and fed a pass to Nathan Haaksma. Without any hesitation Haaksma would take a shot and score his eighth goal of the season.
The goal would stand as the game winner and the Wolf Pack would make it a 19 game winning streak and their thirty first win of the season. The third period felt like a playoff game as it was a very tight and tense twenty minutes.
Both teams would get their chances but it was the Wolf Pack that would go home as the winning team. Sam Marburg (0G, 1A, 1P) was named player of the game for the Pack.
DAVIS, BARKER, SUPRYNOWICZ BREAK PACK’S GOAL SCORING RECORD
This team broke multiple records but some players did too. Before this season Lucas Barker held the goal scoring title of 34 goals which he set last season.
“I am very honoured to have this record, but I am more focused on the most important goal which is the Playoffs.”
– Dom Davis
Dominic Davis broke Barker’s record by scoring his 35th goal on January 10 against the Ridge Meadows Flames. Dom would finish his season with 42 goals and 25 assists for 67 points. Dom now holds the goal scoring record with 42 goals. His 42 goals also put him first in the league.
Lucas Barker got his 35th goal of the season on January 21 against the Delta Ice Hawks. Barker would finish the season with 40 goals and 34 assists for 74 points.
Alex Suprynowicz would be the final player to get to 35 goals. He scored his 35th on January 31st against the Abbotsford Pilots. Alex would finish the season with 36 goals and 41 assists for 77 points.
Although Alex didn’t score the most goals of any player on the Pack, his 77 points would put him in first for points on the Pack and the PJHL and gain the title of most points by a Wolf Pack player during the regular season.
SEVEN PLAYERS AND COACHING STAFF NAMED TO PJHL ALL STAR GAME
Matt Samson, his coaching staff and seven of his players were all invited to Delta to play against the VIJHL All Stars, on January 26. Bradley Cooper (G), Nathan Haaksma (D),Jacob Callas (D) Lucas Barker (F), Alex Suprynowicz (F), Jacob Fournier (F), and Dominic Davis (F) were the seven players named to the team.
It was a back and forth game between the VIJHL and PJHL and the game needed overtime. 0:36 into extra time Alex Suprynowicz found the back of the net and he would be the PJHL hero.
The PJHL took the game 7-6. Suprynowicz also had two assists while Jacob Callas and Nathan Haaksma both recorded assists. Bradley Cooper stopped 23 of 26 shots that were fired his way in 30 minutes.
“It’s cool to think that I was the first player to have the game winning goal for the PJHL. It was a great experience and I had lots of fun.”
Nik HOOGENDOORN SHINES IN FIRST GAME DEBUT
“Nik is a big hard working power forward,
who is good at finishing his chances, around the net.”
– Matt Samson
The 16 year old from Gibsons, British Columbia and younger brother of Wolf Pack defenceman Kurt Hoogendoorn, was called up to play for the Pack on January 29 when North Van visited the White Rock Whalers. Before this game Nik had recorded 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points in 32 games, with the Vancouver North West Hawks (MML).
To say that Nik had a good game is an understatement; In just his first game Hoogie would finish his night off with 3 goals. The Pack would win 5-0 and they would get their 37th win of the season which extended their winning streak to 25 games. Nikolas would go on to play a total of 2 games with the Pack, in the regular season. The games he played were, January 27 @ White Rock (3G), and January 31 @ Abbotsford (0P).
“The whole experience was just really great. The guys in the room made me feel like a part of the team and on the ice I got some really good passes so it was easy to just shoot the puck and help them get a win.”
THE NUMBER 40 NEVER LOOKED BETTER
Last year’s team finished the regular season with a record of 34-9-0-1, which was good enough for first place in the league. The success of last year’s team set the foundation for the 2019-20 season.
Of the twenty-three players from last year’s team only ten players would remain on the Pack. Fournier, Davis, Callas, Barker, Haaksma, Jollymore, Bailey, S.Frederick, Marburg and Peakman were those ten players.
Matt Samson wanted his new team to do just as well and as a result, Matt decided to create a team goal.
Now it is quite normal for teams to have goals but this goal was absolutely crazy, or so people thought. This was not an easy goal to accomplish but through hard work and a very close knit team, the Wolf Pack were able to pull it off.
Unable to set a new record on Wednesday February 5th against the Trappers the Pack had to wait until the next day (Thursday February 6) when they played the Surrey Knights. North Van would get their 40th win in convincing fashion as they would beat the Knights in a 7-1 game.
Nicholas Frederick, Alex Suprynowicz, and Jacob Callas all recorded one goal while Lucas Barker, and Ryan Stack each scored twice. In the 55 years of the PJHL’s existence no team has ever won 40 games, until now.
That win gave the Pack 81 total points which is another record, despite the fact that the PJHL season used to be four games longer. A record like this is never easy for any team to get but the Pack believed in themselves and they never gave up.
“I am proud of the group for buying in and it was great to set this record but we still have a lot of hard work to do.”
– Matt Samson
There has never been a hockey team as good as the Wolf Pack and although the players and coaches deserve credit the team would like to share its achievement.
A big thank you goes out to all of the parents and fans for making Harry Jerome the best arena in the league. The Pack would also like to thank all of its Volunteers for everything they have done this season.
The Wolf Pack would not be successful if not for all of the Volunteers who run the show. From Scorekeeping, announcing, running concession stands, selling tickets, to being goal judges all of our Volunteers play significant roles in running this organization.
“Volunteers are a huge part of our entire team and we are very lucky to have such a dedicated group of volunteers.”