Langley Rivermen are down 3-1 and must win March 20

For Jon Calvano, every game in the B.C. Hockey League’s round 2 of the playoffs has a home feel to it.

The associate coach and assistant general manager with the Langley Rivermen witnessed his squad turn the tables on the Coquitlam Express in game 3 of their best-of-seven series Monday with a convincing 5-0 victory at the Poirier Sports Centre.

Then the Express 5-3 in game 4 on Tuesday evening making the series 3-1 for Coquitlam and forcing the Rivermen into a do-or-die contest for Thursday’s game 5.

Calvano, who served three years behind the Poirier rink bench as the Express head coach and general manager, said it was imperative that Langley put its best skate forward.

“For us, we knew our backs up against the wall and nothing’s been accomplished yet,” said Calvano. “You don’t want to get down 3-0 with the offence [Coquitlam] has. We got off to a good start, obviously to get a goal first shift, it put them on their heels. We had a really good first period but the rest of the game was really kind of blah on both sides.”

In game 3 the Rivermen charged out and pressured the Express right from the opening shift and took the lead just 22 seconds in when Jacob Reichert put a wrap-around behind Coquitlam’s Gordy Defiel.

The Express struggled through the first 20 minutes and Defiel, who entered the game with a 1.80 goals against average and .948 save percentage, gave up three goals on the first six shots. Former Coquitlam grinder Will Cook netted his first goal of the playoffs to make it 2-0 just four minutes later.

Keeping Coquitlam off balance and back on their heels worked well, but Calvano said the league’s top scoring club likely won’t be shut down indefinitely.

“[Coquitlam’s] puck movement is great. Whenever [Adam] Rockwood has the puck, something negative could happen to our team. He had some good looks, but we tried to take away some of their shooters and it worked for us tonight,” he said.

The two teams square off in game 5 at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday (tonight). A sixth game, if necessary, would be played in Coquitlam on Friday and game 7 would be in Langley.

Calvano’s dismissal a year ago caught the youthful bench boss by surprise, coming just as he and wife Melissa were adjusting to being parents for the first time. After three years behind the Express bench, Calvano admitted his pride needed some suturing following the firing.

The opportunity to join Langley as the associate head coach to coach and general manager Bobby Henderson, who like Calvano brings a youthful view of the game, was a great opportunity, he said.

“The transition has been good for me, the responsibilities are still there, working with Bobby and (assistant coach Kurt Astle) have been great,” said Calvano. “We have a good group of guys in the room and it helped having Will Cook come over at the beginning of the year – having someone I knew well [on the team].”

The Rivermen’s regular season BCHL title – behind a 37-13-3-5 record – carries little weight in the postseason. He said any benefit from finishing first was tested severely when Coquitlam swept the opening two games of the series. Momentum from Monday’s win could be shortlived if the squad does not maintain its focus.

“Obviously our expectations are high but we know the other teams are out to get us,” said Calvano. “Winning the league you need a bit of luck here or there, but this is the playoffs and it doesn’t matter. That just puts a target on you, and we played like that the first two games and Coquitlam took advantage of it.

“Tonight they came out like they were the league champs and we were the underdogs and we took full advantage of it. Hopefully its the making of a good series and I know where I’ll be at on Thursday night.”

– Dan Olson is a Coquitlam Now reporter.

Just Posted

National PTSD awareness ride rolling into Langley

The Rolling Barrage 2018 ride will arrive next Tuesday and overnight in Langley.

Bevy of remarkable birthdays celebrated in Aldergrove

Maudie MacPherson (age 101), Vera Banner (91) and Alice Utas (95)

Looking Back: August 16, 2018

Langley’s history, as told through the files of the Advance.

Throwback Thursday: August 16, 2018

Can you help us caption a photo from Langley’s past?

Langley’s Tbird preps to welcome Mounties for Musical Ride

The equestrian spectacle is coming to Langley Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

Kim XO is Black Press Media’s fashionista

Starting Sept. 7, stylist Kim XO will host Fashion Fridays on the Life channel on Black Press Meida

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Mt. Hicks fire 15% contained, continues to burn north of Agassiz

The fire, suspected to be caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, not threatening any structures

Police responding to ‘unfolding’ incident in Maple Ridge suburb

Helicopter, dog team, guns drawn and 16 police vehicles at Maple Ridge property

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Most Read