The Langley Rivermen weren’t going let this one slip away from them Saturday at Coquitlam’s Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.
The ’Men built a 4-2, first period lead before the host Coquitlam Express rallied to tie the score at 4-4 before the end of regulation.
But the Rivermen were the ones celebrating at night’s end, as Kevan Kilistoff scored the winner during the second overtime period to lift the visitors to a 5-4 victory.
The result gave the ’Men a win and a regulation loss against the Express in their home-and-home, B.C. Hockey League weekend series.
The night before at the Langley Events Centre, the Express battled back from a 2-1, second period deficit by scoring the final five goals of the game in a 6-2 victory.
Rivermen 5, Express 4 (double OT)
Making the Rivermen’s win on Saturday all the more impressive was the fact they went into the game with a depleted roster.
Forward James Robinson was serving the first part of a two-game suspension for what the referee believed to be a blow to the head of a Coquitlam player during the first period of Friday’s contest.
Also out of the lineup were Rivermen defenceman Travis Maxwell and forward Nathan Craft (injured), and blueliner Chris Forney (personal).
“I’m happy to see the guys respond the way they did,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. “It was a pretty gutsy performance and we had to work to get it done. Coquitlam was good again.”
Henderson stressed that the Rivermen get off to a good start Saturday and the players responded.
Langley’s Matt Ustaski opened the scoring 2:49 into the game. A shorthanded goal by captain Mitch McLain at the 9:41 mark of the first period followed by a powerplay marker from Will Cook (set up by McLain) just under five minutes later made it 3-0 Rivermen.
The Express rallied with goals from Adam Smith and Canon Pieper 2:14 apart to make it a one-goal game, 3-2, with less than three minutes remaining in the first period.
But with 1:41 left in the opening frame, the Rivermen’s Jakob Reichert scored as Langley carried a 4-2 lead into the intermission.
Then, over the next 40 minutes, the Express held the Rivermen off the scoreboard while getting a shorthanded goal from Jace Henning at the 14:54 mark of the second frame and a powerplay marker from Ryan Rosenthal with 10:24 to go in the third to tie the game at 4-4.
After a scoreless first overtime, Kilistoff scored 2:29 into double overtime when he backhanded the puck past Express goaltender Pierce Dushenko for the winning marker.
Henderson said Coquitlam deserved the overtime point.
“You’ve got to give Coquitlam credit,” he said. “They are a good team and they’ll be trouble to handle all year.”
Rivermen 6, Express 2
The ’Men looked in control at one point of the second period, during their home opener in front of a decent crowd of 2,318 fans at the LEC.
After McLain scored a pretty powerplay goal 4:09 into the second period to tie the game at 1-1, Reichert snapped home his first of the season from the slot to give the home team a 2-1 lead.
But a fluke goal from Bo Pieper, whose pass attempt ricocheted off the skate of a Rivermen defenceman and past Langley goaltender James Barr, seemed to change the momentum.
Fifty-six seconds later, Coquitlam’s Adam Rockwood moved in alone from the blueline in before backhanding the puck past Barr to give the Express a 3-2 lead.
The Express added insurance in the third frame with goals from Rosenthal (on a powerplay at the 14-minute mark) and back-to-back tallies from Pieper at 14:55 and with 38 seconds to go in regulation, to round out the game’s scoring.
“We had trouble getting it going pretty much all night,” Henderson said. “It was one of those nights where the guys were squeezing [their sticks] a little bit. Part of it was, we got away from what was working. We had some success keeping the pucks low and got away from that. There were some sloppy turnovers and stuff early in season that we’re trying to iron out.”
The Rivermen are an encouraging 3-1-0-1, identical to the Express, as the two rivals share the lead atop the BCHL’s Mainland Division.
The ’Men will spend the weekend on a gruelling road trip that will see them play three games in two-and-a-half days. They play in Powell River against the Kings Friday (Sept. 27), in Port Alberni against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday (Sept. 28), and in Nanaimo against the Clippers Sunday afternoon (Sept. 29).
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