Langley Rivermen experience rollercoaster weekend

The Langley Rivermen started their weekend off on the right skate, but things went just a little bit downhill from there.

But, from a glass half-full perspective, Langley’s junior A hockey team managed to collect points in two of their three games this weekend.

The Rivermen edged the host Coquitlam Express 5-4 on Friday, earned a single point in a 3-2 double overtime loss at home to the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday, and finished the weekend with a 3-1 road defeat at the hands of the Surrey Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

After the weekend results, the Rivermen are 2-3-0-1 and remain in third place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Mainland Division.

Surrey Eagles 3, Rivermen 1

It’s not the way the Rivermen wanted to round out their weekend, losing 3-1 to the Eagles, who earned their first win of the season after opening the campaign at 0-4-0-2.

The Rivermen showed signs of fatigue, playing their third game in as many days.

Surrey got on the board early, scoring two minutes in, as Joseph Drapluk netted his first of the season on the power play.

Langley answered with Ryan Coulter scoring his first of the year on a feed from Jordan Schneider, to even the game up 1-1.

The Eagles notched the eventual game winner with just under six minutes to play in the first period, after Ben Vikich converted on a Rivermen turnover.

Surrey took a 2-1 lead to the dressing room after the first period.

The Eagles added one more late in the second period, when John Wesley put one past Langley goaltender Bo Didur.

It was a rather uneventful third frame as neither team could score.

The Eagles basically ran out the clock, securing the 3-1 victory.

Nanaimo Clippers 3, Rivermen 2 (double overtime)

The Rivermen fell short in an exciting and entertaining home opener, presented by Global BC, at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night.

Sheldon Rempel scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season with 20 seconds to go in the three-on-three double overtime period, while first star Guillaume Decelles stopped 31 shots to give Nanaimo its fourth straight win.

The game was tied at two after 40 minutes of play. There was lots of back and forth action but no scoring in the third period.

The first overtime frame solved nothing, so it was off to three-on-three double overtime. In double OT, Decelles stoned Evan

Anderson from point blank range and Gage Torrel hit the crossbar on a breakaway.

“Well, it was exciting for the fans that’s for sure,” Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp said. “The three-on-three is just mayhem as far as I’m concerned but it’s an exciting way for the game to end.”

“My heart was racing,” Evan Anderson said. “To hear those fans was pretty exciting. It’s too bad we didn’t get the win.”

Langley couldn’t have asked for a better start, scoring 24 seconds into the game on a nice passing play finished off by Will Cook.

“It was exciting back and forth hockey,” Rivermen assistant coach Kurt Astle said. “That’s what the fans came to see. I thought our guys generated opportunities but it came down to execution and their goalie stood on his head and I tip my hat to him. We were on the wrong side of a few unlucky bounces.”

Vanderkamp described his goaltender, Decelles, as “a good backbone for us.”

“We went after him hard in the summer to get him to come play here and it’s worked out really for us,” Vanderkamp said. “He really shined tonight and stole the game for us.”

Brendan Gulka scored short-handed in the first period as the Rivermen took a 2-1 lead, but once again Langley got into penalty trouble, taking seven minor penalties in the game, giving up one power play goal.

“That’s something we’re still working on,” Astle said. “Some of our guys stepped up and had some big games and we still need some of our veterans to bring it a little more and show some leadership.”

The Rivermen suffered a tough break when goaltender Darren Martin left early in the third period with a leg injury as he collided into defenseman Steven Duda.

Bo Didur came in and replaced Martin.

“Marty’s such a great guy and to see him go down was tough but he’ll bounce back and we hope to see him on the ice soon,” Anderson said.

Envision Financial was on hand and presented the Dash for Cash, where, during the first intermission, two fans had a chance to collect up to 5,000 loonies spread all over the ice. Global BC’s Kaitlyn Herbst also participated in the event with the money she collected going to Global BC’s Thanks for Giving Food Drive.

Envision Financial matched her proceeds and donated $2,000 to the Food Drive.

Rivermen 5, Coquitlam Express 4

Powered by a big third period, the Rivermen won their second straight game, hanging on to defeat the Express 5-4 at Coquitlam’s Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.

Gage Torrel led the charge for Langley with two goals, including the game winner early in the third period, and an assist.

Captain Kevan Kilistoff and Jake Zeleznikar each had two points in the victory.

The Rivermen once again looked impressive with the man advantage, scoring twice in under a minute late in the first period as Torrel and Matthew Graham netted power play markers.

“The power play came up big again for us,” Rivermen associate head coach Jon Calvano said. “Coquitlam got two power play goals as well, so our penalty kill has to be just as effective as our power play. We got to really focus on winning the draws, blocking shots, getting pucks deep and being patient in the offensive zone and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Will Campion scored the other Rivermen goal in the first period, as they led the Express 3-2 after 20 minutes of play.

Despite being outshot 42-32, Coquitlam kept it close thanks to Corey Mackin. The Express forward scored a natural hat trick, including two on the man advantage in a losing cause.

Cameron Bertsch scored the fourth Express goal.

Bo Didur picked up his first win in a Rivermen jersey, stopping 28 shots in the victory.

“We’ve made improvements throughout each game,” Calvano said. “The first two games, we didn’t get the wins, but the last two, we’re clicking a little better and just improving on different parts of the game.”

 

FINAL BUZZER: The Rivermen are in Prince George next, to battle the Mainland Division leading Spruce Kings on Thursday and Friday night.

– with files from Kevin Berar, Langley Events Centre

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