Persistence is the reason the Langley Rivermen pocketed an overtime point Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Hosting a strong Nanaimo Clippers team that sits on top of the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division with a 29-15-1 record, the Rivermen erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to send the game into overtime.
However, Nanaimo defenceman Yanni Kaldis – who leads all BCHL blueliners in both assists and points – scored the OT winner two minutes into the first extra period.
While he would have liked to have had the two points, Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said he was happy with his team’s effort against a “veteran” Nanaimo team.
“That was a key area of our game that we needed to improve on, was our play when we got behind in key situations and I think we took a step,” Henderson said.
The Rivermen found themselves down 2-0 after the Clippers’ Charley Borek scored his team’s second of the night 1:33 into the second period.
Cue the mini-comeback: goals by Max Kaufman and Matty Saharchuk got the home team right back into it.
The Clippers then restored their lead when Matthew Hoover notched his 29th of the campaign with 1:41 to go in the middle frame.
The Rivermen didn’t quit, however, with Adam Sinclair tying the game at three 2:52 into the third period to close out the scoring in regulation time.
The Clippers outshot the Rivermen 32-26, with Langley netminder Bo Didur and his counterpart, Nanaimo’s puckstopper Evan Johnson both playing solidly between the pipes for their respective teams.
Henderson said comparing the Rivermen’s play from last weekend to the weekend before is “like night and day.”
“It was good to see the team play up to its capabilities this weekend,” he said.
Rivermen 5, Coquitlam Express 3
The Rivermen won Friday’s game at Coquitlam’s Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre in the third period.
Down 3-2 just past the seven minute mark of the period, the Rivermen tallied a trio of unanswered goals to pull away.
During that stretch, Torrin White (with his 13th and 14th of the season) sandwiched goals between Kaufman’s winner at the 8:19 mark of the third, which put Langley ahead 4-3.
Justin Fregona and Will Campion scored in the opening frame for the Rivermen, who led 2-1 after the first period and entered the second intermission tied 2-2 with the Express.
Mitch Newsome gave Coquitlam a short-lived, 3-2 lead when he scored 1:58 into the final stanza.
Didur earned the win in net, stopping 15 of 18 Coquitlam shots.
Henderson said the third period versus Coquitlam may have signalled a turning point for the Rivermen.
“I think the guys had enough of where they’ve been and they found an extra gear,” he said.
“They had a mindset that they weren’t going to be disappointed.”
Alone in third
The Rivermen sit alone in third place in the BCHL’s Mainland Division with a 23-17-1-1 record, seven points in front of fourth-place Coquitlam (18-20-4-1) and a fair ways back of the second place Wenatchee Wild (24-13-2-3) and front-running Chilliwack Chiefs (27-8-4-1), both of whom have already secured playoff spots.
Next up for the ’Men is a trip to Prince George, where they will play back-to-back games with the Spruce Kings at the Prince George Coliseum on Thursday and Friday.
After that they have Saturday to rest up for their Sunday afternoon game at the LEC against Coquitlam. Opening puck drop for the Rivermen/Express match-up is 3 p.m.
Looking ahead to the next few days and the stretch drive towards the season, Henderson hopes a healthy Rivermen squad will be able to pile up some wins and points as it heads towards the post-season.
“We need all cylinders to be firing for us to be able to make some noise,” he said.