If the Langley Rivermen had as much success away from the confines of the Langley Events Centre as they've had inside the LEC, they'd be sitting near the top of the B.C. Hockey League's Mainland Division.
A 4-2 win over the Coquitlam Express in front of 1,867 fans Saturday at the LEC was the Rivermen's eighth home win of the season and improved the local junior A team's overall record to 9-8-0-3.
However, the 'Men have just one road victory to their credit, more than a third of the way through the 56-game campaign.
"I wish I could tell you. I wish I had an answer," Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said, regarding his team's lack of success in opposing rinks.
"For whatever reason the guys are comfortable here, but there seems to be a mental block and we struggle on the road."
Henderson said the team's road woes are "like any issue that happens during the season. We are addressing it as a group."
As for the 'Men's impressive home record, Henderson said the players take a lot of pride in being Rivermen.
"I'm proud of our guys for taking a lot of pride in playing at home and putting on a good show for our home fans, and them realizing that it's an honour to play in this building and in this city, but we have to carry that mentality on to the road," he added.
Coquitlam Express 2
For the second straight home game, the 'Men controlled the play.
In fact, they did not trail for a single second during the game.
The Rivermen got off to a fast start as Matt Ustaski put away his fifth goal of the year on the powerplay.
Just short of the five-minute mark, Ustaski held onto the puck out of the left corner and looked like he wanted to pass to Mitch McLain in front of the net, but instead put the puck on goal and caught Cole Huggins by surprise by slipping the puck between the Coquitlam goaltender's pads.
The Express tied the game, also on the powerplay courtesy of John Siemer at the 12: 43 mark of the period.
A few minutes after that tally, Austin Azurdia gave the Rivermen the lead back.
The 'Men wanted to get off to a good start and did just that by firing 15 pucks on goal.
At the other end of the ice, Langley netminder James Barr stopped 11 of 12 pucks during the opening frame.
Robinson was a force in the first period, finishing a goal shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick (he fought Coquitlam's Beau Orser 3: 42 into the game) and even had a glorious chance on a penalty shot, but missed.
The Express had a strong start to the second period, netting the equalizer just over the three-minute mark as Siemer found the net again. Siemer swiped in his
11th of the year and second of the game on a rebound off Barr's pads from a Phil Zielonka shot.
The game remained tied for eight minutes, before the 'Men took their third lead of the night on a goal of the year candidate from Evan Anderson.
The newly acquired forward toe dragged the puck around an Express defenseman and fired home a quick snap shot top corner over the glove of Huggins.
It was his second goal in two games and had the fans buzzing after that beauty of a goal.
The Rivermen kept the pedal to the metal in the final frame and buried the Express on a goal from Evan Campbell at the 10: 18 mark. Campbell received a great pass from Mario Puskarich from the side of the goal, and the Port Coquitlam product wired a shot five-hole past Huggins.
Barr stopped all five shots he faced in the third period and picked up his eighth win of the season.
It was Langley's first win over Coquitlam in the season series.
The Express hold a 2-1 lead in the three games played, but now the Rivermen are just two points back of them for fourth place in the Mainland Division.
The Rivermen will now have to figure out a way to win on the road, because it will be a while until the local boys are back at home.
The 'Men head out on their first Vancouver Island road swing of the year this weekend, when they play against Nanaimo (Friday), Cowichan Valley (Saturday), and Powell River (Sunday).
Henderson said the players and coaches are looking forward to this weekend.
"We're excited about getting on the Island and playing in new surroundings," the head coach said. "From the mental part of it, it's something fresh, something new.
"The guys are up for the challenge."
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