Rookies prove quick studies for Sockeyes

Langley's Daniell Lange and Danton Heinen played key roles in helping Richmond capture the PJHL championship

Danton Heinen (left) and Daniell Lange pose with the PJHL championship trophy and banner after helping the Richmond Sockeyes defeat the Aldergrove Kodiaks in the league finals.  The pair have played together since their minor hockey days.

Danton Heinen (left) and Daniell Lange pose with the PJHL championship trophy and banner after helping the Richmond Sockeyes defeat the Aldergrove Kodiaks in the league finals. The pair have played together since their minor hockey days.

A pair of Lower Mainland hockey players have spent the bulk of their careers on the same line, one an elite goal-scorer and the other a fantastic play-maker.

But no, the names on the backs of their jerseys do not say Sedin and they do not play for the Vancouver Canucks.

Instead, they are a pair of 17-year-old Langley hockey products: Daniell Lange — the finisher — and Danton Heinen — the playmaker — who have helped lead the Richmond Sockeyes into this weekend’s Cyclone Taylor Cup in Comox Valley.

The Cup pits the winners of the three junior B hockey leagues — Pacific Junior Hockey League (Richmond), the Kootenay Interior Junior Hockey League (Castlegar Rebels) and the Vancouver Junior Hockey League (Victoria Cougars) as well as the host Comox Valley Glacier Kings.

It runs from April 11 to 14 with the winner representing B.C. at the Keystone Cup, the western Canadian championships, in St. Malo, Man. next week.

Lange and Heinen have been a big part of Richmond’s success, as the team went 32-8-0-4 during the regular season and then captured the league championship with a four-game sweep of the Aldergrove Kodiaks.

While Richmond coach Aaron Wilbur knew he had a couple of good rookies coming into his line-up, their success still comes as a bit of a surprise.

“I expected them to be really good, (but) to suggest Daniell would lead the league in goals and Danton would at times dominate in the playoffs like he has, would probably be unfair to (the two of them),” the first-year coach said.

“But we expected they would be a big part of our team.

“They have really come into their own and are as dangerous players you are going to see at our level on any given night.”

Lange, a centre, led the league with 34 goals in 44 games and his 53 points placed him eighth overall. Heinen, a winger, had 21 goals and 28 assists and his 49 points in 43 games had him 11th. And in the playoffs, both have scored 14 points.

They have pretty much played together as they rose through the ranks of the Langley Minor Hockey Association and then teamed up last season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.

Lange scored 23 goals and 51 points in 47 games while Heinen, his line-mate, contributed 19 goals and 43 points in 37 games.

The pair rave about playing with one another.

“His ability to see the ice,” Lange said when asked what stood out about his winger. “And is playmaking is exceptional.”

For his part, Heinen said Lange’s shot stands out.

Doug Abbott photo

Daniell Lange (#19) fires a puck past Aldergrove Kodiaks’ goalie Mark Menicucci during the PJHL championship series. Lange helped the Sockeyes sweep the Kodiaks to advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

“He has got a rocket of a shot and he gets it off quick,” Heinen said. “He is just such a good goal scorer.”

Both players, who turn 18 later this year, have their sights set on sticking with junior A hockey clubs for the 2013/14 seasons.

And they know that for the first time in a long time, they may not be line-mates, let alone teammates.

“We are just focusing on the right now,” Lange said about helping the Sockeyes at the Cyclone Taylor Cup, and not focusing on the future.

Wilbur does not anticipate having them back next season and sees both earning Division 1 scholarships, which is one of their goals, down the road.

“They are both tremendous players,” Wilbur said, adding that they do not necessarily need each other to find success.

“They certainly have a real strong chemistry between them and I think (the familiarity) helps for sure.

“In saying that, they are both very gifted and most players would probably find them easy to play with.”

“(Daniell) is more of a pure scorer: great shot, real dangerous on the power play. He is just a real competitive individual and that really shows up in his game and how he plays,” Wilbur said about Lange.

“(Danton) has great hands, but really his vision and playmaking abilities are off the charts. He has been tremendous for us, especially in the playoffs,” the coach said about Heinen.

Lange is 5-11, 180-pound while Heinen is 6-0 and 150 pounds. Heinen grew a couple of inches since last season and his coach heaped some lofty praise on the winger, who has yet to fill into his body.

“He reminds me a ton of Zac (Dalphe),” Wilbur said about the Caroline Hurricanes player, whom he coached as an assistant with Penticton in the 2008 season.

Dalphe went on to play two seasons with Ohio State before turning pro. He has split this season between Carolina and the AHL.

Doug Abbott photo

Richmond Sockeyes’ Danton Heinen (#9) played a key role in helping his team advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

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