Langley Knights nightmare for opposing goalies

The Langley Knights have been eviscerating opposing defences this season.

Wins such as Thursday’s, in which the Knights outscored the visiting Delta Ice Hawks 9-6, are beginning to become commonplace at the George Preston Recreation Centre.

The Knights have now scored a staggering 40 goals in their five home games this season, an average of eight per contest.

Their most recent victory gives the Knights a 6-3 record, tops in the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Harold Brittain Conference.

Langley is riding a three-game win streak and is undefeated on home ice.

With 55 goals in nine games, one more than the Tom Shaw Conference-leading Richmond Sockeyes, the Knights are the highest scoring team in the PJHL.

Knights 9, Delta Ice Hawks 6

Langley forward Carson Rose had a monster game against the Ice Hawks, scoring five of his team’s nine goals.

Colin Catchpole tallied twice for the Knights, with Darien Craighead (who also had three assists) and Jacob Fricks rounding out the Langley goal-scorers.

Oliver Alcock had three assists for the Knights, who led 6-5 after two periods before outscoring the Ice Hawks 3-1 during the final frame.

Knights 5, Aldergrove Kodiaks 4 (overtime)

The Knights worked overtime on Wednesday to edge the Kodiaks in the first ever meeting between the new junior B hockey cross-town rivals.

Levi De Waal’s power play goal 47 seconds into the first overtime period lifted the Knights to a 5-4 win at Aldergrove Arena.

“It could have gone either way,” Kodiaks associate coach and general manager Rick Harkins said.

A tripping call on Aldergrove defenceman Wyatt Versluis with 1:06 to go in regulation proved to be the difference, as his penalty time spilled into the extra session.

“The call was a bit iffy against us late,” Harkins said. “That gave them a power play that sealed our fate.”

The winning marker capped a four-goal night for the 20-year-old De Waal, an Aldergrove native who is off to a scintillating start to his final season of junior B hockey.

“He’s a kid who has stayed the course for four years, now, and is getting rewarded for all of his hard work,” Knights head coach John Craighead said.

In terms of De Waal’s future, Craighead said, “I think that’s entirely up to Levi. He’s got good size [6’4” 185 pounds], he’s a power guy with a good touch. The sky’s the limit for him, but don’t forget – he’s playing with a lot of good guys who are helping him. Levi is not a one man show. He’s not the Langley Knights.”

The Knights’ Tristan Craighead opened the scoring  5:36 into the first period.

The visitors looked as though they were going to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission courtesy of a pair of goals from De Waal, however Aldergrove’s Aaron Markin scored with a second to go in the opening frame to narrow the home team’s deficit to 3-2.

The Kodiaks rallied during the second period, outshooting the Knights 18-7 while scoring an even strength goal from Quinncy Leroux and a power play marker off the stick of Jordan Funk with 3:09 remaining in the middle frame to take a 4-3 lead into the second intermission.

Harkins was impressed with his team’s resiliency: “Coming back from a two-goal deficit, I was pretty impressed. They are a bit of an older team than us and they took it to us early, going up 2-0 pretty quick.  It shows a lot of character for us, not giving in. When you’re young like that, it would have been very easy to go away, but we dug in and played hard and got a single point out of it. It was a good exciting game for the fans.”

De Waal tied the game at 4-4 when he scored 3:30 into the third period.

The rest of the game was scoreless, setting up the overtime period.

Dryden Wust had the other goal for the Kodiaks, who outshot the Knights 34-25 through three periods and overtime.

Craighead was happy with his team’s play, not just on Wednesday but overall, as well.

“I’ve been happy with the effort in all our games,” Craighead said. “We weren’t expecting anything less other than a win [against the Kodiaks]. Anything else would be a disappointment, just like our approach to every game.”

That said, Craighead gave the Kodiaks a lot of credit. The defending PJHL champions have 16 rookies, including both of their goaltenders, on their roster and heading into their game versus Ridge Meadows on Friday, have a respectable 3-3-1-2 record.

“They are basically playing with 17 and 18 year olds,” Craighead said.  

Referring to Harkins, Craighead said, “He’s done a great job, there.”

For his part, Harkins is loving the Aldergrove/Langley rivalry.

“It’s been such a great change, and no disrespect to North Delta, but they weren’t drawing a fan base,” Harkins said (the Knights relocated to Langley from North Delta during the off-season). “It was such a long drive [to North Delta] for everybody. With Langley, it’s a built-in rivalry between the two teams and it makes the league that much better. John’s got a good organization, there. What they’ve done so far is really impressive and I hope it continues.”

ICE CHIPS: Special teams have made a difference for the Knights. They have the top-ranked powerplay amongst the 10 PJHL teams, scoring a 31.37 per cent clip.

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