It’s must-win time for the North Van Wolf Pack after they dropped the first game of their best-of-three “survivor series” playoff round against the Grandview Steelers Wednesday night in Burnaby.
The Steelers and Wolf Pack, ranked fourth and fifth in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference following regular season play, are battling for the opportunity to take on the top-ranked Delta Ice Hawks in a seven-round series.
The Steelers drew first blood in the mini-matchup, getting a goal from Nathan Bran nine minutes and 40 seconds into the first overtime period to score the all-important Game 1 win. Mason Brown led the way for the Steelers with two goals in the game, while Grandview goaltender Shayan Kermany came up big with 46 saves as the Wolf Pack outshot the Steelers 49-35 in the game. JJ Pickell and Andrew Casellato were the top scorers for the Wolf Pack, picking up a goal and an assist each.
Pickell is coming off a season that saw him score 42 goals in 45 games, leading the league in goals while tying a team record set by Dominic Davis in 2019-20.
The Wolf Pack had to dig out of a deep hole in the regular season after losing 10 of their first 11 games. They won 25 of their next 37 games, however, to climb out of the basement and make the “survivor series” play-in round.
The Wolf Pack roster includes five players from North Vancouver – Leo Keith, Jason Scott, Kaj Burgess, Corson Penman and Luke Bradley – and West Vancouver’s Branden Pollock.
The roster for the Steelers, based in Burnaby, also includes a number of North Shore players in North Vancouver’s Luke Cox, Max Chelico, Gabriel Adam, and Nico Falso.
The Wolf Pack and Steelers will play again Saturday night with a 7:15 puck drop at Harry Jerome Arena. A Steelers win would clinch the series, while a win for the Wolf Pack would send it to Game 3 scheduled for Sunday at 7:15 p.m. at Burnaby Winter Club.