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The kids are alright: Rookies power Port Moody Panthers to 2021-22 season-opening victory

Three first-career goals lifted the Panthers to a 4-1 win over the Ridge Meadows Flames on the road in a semi-normal start to the new Pacific Junior Hockey League season.
Port Moody Panthers- Ridge Meadows Flames 2021-22 PJHL opener
The Port Moody Panthers returned to a (somewhat) normal atmosphere, playing on the road against the Ridge Meadows Flames in their 2021-22 PJHL season-opening game.

The Port Moody Panthers came out hot and fiery, while also dousing some Flames at the other end.

The Tri-Cities' junior 'B' hockey franchise won their season-opening match Friday (Sept. 10) by a score of 4-1 on the road in Ridge Meadows, thanks to the efforts of its rookie core.

The team's roster for the 2021-22 Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) season consists of 13 first-years — that's 65 per cent of the 20-player list.

Three, in particular, stood out last night at Cam Neely Planet Ice Arena.

Benjamin Skulski turned away 35 of 36 shots in his first start between the pipes for Port Moody. It was only his second start in PJHL play after suiting up for one game for the Surrey Knights last year and signing with the Panthers a week earlier.

The 18-year-old goaltender faced double the number of shots the Panthers sent the other direction (18) and was named the game's first star.

Captain Jayson Beauregard broke the ice on the evening with his first of the year, a short-hander just after the 13-minute mark of the first period.

After the Flames tied it up at 1-1 nearly three minutes later, the young Panthers took over!

Coquitlam's Connor Hughes grabbed the puck after tucking it in when it came loose on the left side of Ridge Meadows' netminder Elliott Marshall for the 2-1 advantage.

Hughes also provided the assist on Jack Graham's first lamp of the year just 73 seconds later — a short-side shot from the rookie saw the puck fly by Marshall's blocker to up Port Moody's lead to 3-1 before the frame was over.

The second period was quiet until a costly too many men penalty taken by the Flames opened the door for the Panthers to pounce on the board once more.

Daniel Dallapace, a third-year defenceman who had no goals to his stats sheet before Friday, finally got the monkey off his back with a power-play goal with 53 seconds remaining in the stanza.

The Panthers were a man short on three occasions in the third period, but the penalty-killers stepped up to hold onto the 4-1 lead through until the final buzzer.

This was Port Moody's third win in an opening tilt in the last five seasons.

The Panthers' first regular-season home game in Port Moody Arena after 581 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic goes for tonight (Sept. 11), 7:45 p.m. against the Delta Ice Hawks.

The team says it's following provincial health orders currently in effect for B.C., which means fans attending in person aged 12 and older must wear a mask inside the rink. Proof of vaccination is not required.

Prior to Friday's win, the Panthers finish 2-1-1 in PJHL exhibition action:

  • 4-3 win vs.Grandview Steelers
  • 4-1 loss vs. Grandview Steelers
  • 9-6 win vs. Delta Ice Hawks
  • 2-2 tie vs. Delta Ice Hawks
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