Friday proved to be a great night for the Langley Rivermen.
Most importantly, Langley orchestrated its most complete game of the season, beating the Prince George Spruce Kings 5-1.
"I was very happy with the guys," Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. "It was our most solid effort of the year, right from the goal on out. Barrsy [goaltender James Barr] was sharp when he needed to be and we had a timely goal, the fourth one, that put the game away."
Making a good night even better was the 1,699 fans in attendance, one of the largest junior A hockey crowds of the season at the Langley Events Centre.
"That was nice," Henderson said, regarding seeing more bodies in the seats. "It's nice that the guys showed up and played [well] in front of a big crowd. We want those people to come back and as far as entertainment value is concerned, it doesn't get much better than that."
From the drop of the puck to the final buzzer, the 'Men dominated all facets of the game.
It was the fifth meeting of the season between the clubs and the Rivermen showed no signs of fatigue after losing 2-1 in double overtime to the visiting Surrey Eagles the previous night.
Evan Campbell got his team out to a fast start as he scored 1: 28 into the game.
Mitch McLain intercepted a pass in the Prince George zone and fed the puck to Mario Puskarich, who then feathered it onto the tape of Campbell. The goal-scorer squeezed the puck five hole on Spruce Kings' goaltender Kirk Thompson.
Less than two minutes later, Derek Sutliffe finished off a beautiful shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 for the 'Men. The Las Vegas product took a great pass from Ben Greiner at the Spruce Kings' blueline and scored on a nifty backhand move for his third shorthanded marker of the year.
Before the period ended, the 'Men added to their lead. Langley native Jakob Reichert fired home his second of the year on a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Thompson blocker side.
It was an impressive opening 20 minutes from with the Rivermen, especially considering that they had played fewer than 24 hours before.
The second period was a much better effort from the visitors, who opened up the scoring courtesy of Justin Rai.
But with time winding down, Puskarich - tied for second in the B.C. Hockey League scoring race - put away his 12th of the season on the powerplay.
After Mark Whiteley held the puck in at the point, he spotted Campbell open down low. Campbell then put the puck on the stick of Puskarich who buried a shot top corner in a tight spot. It was an amazing goal that very few could pull off, but Puskarich made it look easy.
With a three-goal lead heading into the final period, the 'Men did not sit back.
Just over the 10-minute mark, McLain iced the game as he put home a loose rebound in the crease.
Barr picked up the win, facing 32 shots, and earned third star honours, while Thompson took the loss.
Campbell was the first star with a goal and two helpers while Sutliffe was named second star with a goal and an assist.
With the win the Rivermen now lead the season series at three-games-to-two. The next meeting between the two clubs will be in Prince George on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.
SURREY EAGLES 2, RIVERMEN 1 (OT)
Calling last Thursday's contest at the LEC a defensive battle would be an understatement.
The third meeting of the season between the Rivermen and Eagles may not have been the most exciting game, but both goaltenders would tell you they like it that way.
Barr and the Eagles' Michael Santaguida got the call between the pipes for their teams and they were the headline by the end of it, putting on quite the show.
In the end, the Eagles came away with a 2-1 double overtime win.
"You go to double overtime and it's a one goal game, there's not too much you can be too upset about," Henderson said.
"We had a couple of chances to put the game away, but we're taking the point, turning the page, and moving on."
The Eagles opened the scoring in the first frame on a goal by Brett Mulcahy. The veteran centre took a great pass from Trevor Cameron and buried his sixth of the year on a laser to the top corner past Barr.
The Rivermen responded a few minutes later on a fluke goal from Ben Butcher.
The rookie forward skated the puck in the Surrey zone and let a soft shot go towards the net that eluded the Surrey 'tender. It was a big goal for Butcher who went goal-less throughout October. He now has six on the season.
The second period was a goaltenders' battle.
The third frame mirrored the previous two, but with more scoring opportunities.
The best chance came with 40 seconds to go in regulation as Puskarich had a breakaway with the game on his stick, but was denied by the blocker of Santaguida.
Nothing was solved in the first overtime session, so three-on-three double OT was needed.
In the fifth period, Langley native Jordan Klimek sealed the extra point for the Birds as the rifled home a shot from the slot to the top right corner.
Barr faced 31 shots, earning first star honours, while Santaguida saw 34 pucks and earned the win.
The Rivermen played Wednesday night, Nov. 7, in Chilliwack against the Chiefs (the game got underway after the Advance went to press Wednesday afternoon).
. . .
The Rivermen were 8-7-0-3 heading into last night's game, and remain in fifth place in the BCHL Mainland Division.
Henderson said the Rivermen were shooting for a .500 record prior to Christmas break as the team, with 10 BCHL rookies in the lineup, grew acclimatized to the pace of the league.
Now, Henderson said the .500 mark "isn't going to do it."
"As much as we'd like to see other teams lose games, we have to get on a little bit of a roll," Henderson said Tuesday. "That's been our focus this week."
The Rivermen's next game at the LEC is this Saturday against the Coquitlam Express, with a 7: 15 p.m. opening faceoff.
NEXT RIVERMEN HOME GAME
Who: Langley Rivermen Vs. coquitlam Express
When: Saturday, Nov. 10. Game time is 7:15p.m.
where: Langley Events Centre 7888 200 th St.