Langley Rivermen captain Jordan Schneider and goaltender Bo Didur showed their emotions after the ’Men lost 3-1 to Washington State’s Wenatchee Wild Friday at the George Preston Recreation Centre. The loss eliminated the Rivermen from the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.

Langley Rivermen couldn’t cage Wenatchee Wild, lose playoff series in five games

The Langley Rivermen’s season came to an end Friday at the George Preston Recreation Centre.

There were moments over the past week where, for the Langley Rivermen, containing some of the Wenatchee Wild’s fleet-footed skaters was about as easy as grabbing a greased-up garter snake.

The Wild are moving on to the second round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs after defeating the Rivermen in five games in the teams’ best-of-seven, opening round series.

The final blow came Friday night at the George Preston Recreation Centre, where the Wild downed the Rivermen 3-1 to seal the series win.

“We definitely didn’t quit,” Rivermen winger Matthew Graham said. “A lot of games we came back and made it close, and they could have gone the other way, for sure. We showed a lot of resiliency. I’m proud of the guys for never quitting.”

The Rivermen suffered a major blow when, in game one of the series, they lost forward Justin Fregona, who finished tied with Graham as Langley’s top goal-getter during the regular season with 24 tallies each.

Fregona sprained an ankle on his first shift March 5 in Wenatchee.

“We didn’t have him all series,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. “That hurts.”

Even with the early loss of Fregona, the Rivermen got off to a good start to the series, edging the Wild 4-3 at Wenatchee’s Toyota Town Centre.

After that the Wild went on to take four straight, including a wild 7-6 overtime win in game three March 8 at the GPRC followed by a 5-0 shutout of the Rivermen the very next night.

Wenatchee also needed overtime to win game two by a 4-3 count on March 6.

“It was really close,” Graham said. “It definitely didn’t feel like a 4-1 series. Those OT games could have gone either way. I think their speed and depth was really key for them. I don’t want to say they wore us down but they kept coming and maintaining and played a complete game. They were tough to play against.”

Henderson agreed with his leading scorer.

“They were pretty tight, all the games but one but I attribute that to the hangover you get from losing back-to-back OT games,” Henderson said. “That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

Friday at the GPRC, the Wild led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 after 40 minutes of play before Rivermen defenceman Cameron Ginnetti scored on a power play at the 10:11 mark of the third period to bring the home team to within one.

With about a minute-and-a-half to go in regulation, the Rivermen pulled goaltender Bo Didur from the net in favour of an extra attacker as they pushed for the tying goal to keep their season alive.

But in the final minute, the Wild’s Kyle Stephan, who terrorized the Rivermen all series (he scored the OT winner on March 8 and leads Wenatchee in playoff scoring with four goals and nine points), sidestepped a Langley defender and slid the puck from his own blueline into the yawning cage to seal the victory with 14 seconds to go in the game.

Henderson said he “couldn’t be more proud” of how his players showed resilience especially in game three where they overcame a 4-0 deficit in the first period to tie the game, only to lose 7-6 in overtime.

“A lot of teams would have folded their tent but we managed to take it to OT,” Henderson said. “It showed great character.”

Looking back at the season as a whole, Henderson said, “We had a relatively inexperienced group of guys and they stepped up in the second half and played some pretty good hockey.”

Graham, who is heading to Robert Morris in Moon, Pa., to play NCAA Div. 1 hockey  next season, said he’ll miss Langley.

“A lot of teams don’t make playoffs so I’m definitely glad we made the playoffs,” he said. “I really liked it here in Langley. I have great memories, great friends, and great teammates. I don’t regret anything.”

ICE CHIPS: The ’Men and Wild played games three, four, and five at the GPRC because the Rivermen’s usual home, the Langley Events Centre, was occupied by teams competing in the B.C. high school boys basketball championships.

Just Posted

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

South Langley centre offers seniors an array of activities

Members decide which courses and activities are offered at the Brookswood Seniors Centre.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Most Read