Langley Rivermen fend off Salmon Arm Silverbacks

The ’Men host the Vernon Vipers Saturday, during Teddy Bear Toss night at the Langley Events Centre.

A well-rested Langley Rivermen squad continued its recent roll last weekend in Salmon Arm.

The Rivermen made it six wins in their past seven games, skating to a 5-3 victory over the host Silverbacks on Saturday at the Shaw Centre.

Heading into a weekend that sees the ’Men play back-to-back games, Langley’s record is 18-12, good for third in the B.C. Hockey League’s Mainland Division behind the second place Wenatchee Wild (18-9-2-2) and front-running Chilliwack Chiefs (19-6-1-3).

Wenatchee played the Coquitlam Express last night, after the Advance went to press.

The ’Men took full advantage of a rare break in what has been a hectic first half of their season. Their game versus Salmon Arm was their only contest of the weekend.

And even with goaltender Bo Didur and leading goal-scorer Justin Fregona out of the lineup (both at the Team Canada West camp in Leduc, Alta., with the hope of playing in the prestigious World Junior A Challenge) the Rivermen got it done against the Silverbacks.

The Rivermen built a 4-1 lead on goals from Zac Masson, Matthew Graham, Adam Sinclair, and Dominic Franco before starting goaltender Nickolas Trenciansky left the net just past the midway point of the third frame, in order to give 16-year-old affiliate netminder Braedon Fleming some playing experience.

The Silverbacks responded with a pair of goals before Trenciansky returned to the cage to close out the contest.

“We played excellent,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. “The score wasn’t indicative of the game.”

Salmon Arm’s Josh Blanchard scored with 4:13 remaining in regulation to narrow the home team’s margin to 4-3, but that was as close as the Silverbacks would get.

With Salmon Arm goaltender Angus Redmond  on the bench for an extra attacker, Langley’s Max Kaufman deposited the puck into the empty net with eight seconds remaining to cap the game’s scoring.

Sparking the Rivermen’s strong start versus the Silverbacks was a whole lot of preparation.

“Early in the week, we were able to get a hard conditioning workout in and we took the next day off, so we had great legs in that game,” Henderson said. “The guys were fresh.”

The Rivermen host the Vernon Vipers Saturday at 6 p.m. on Teddy Bear Toss night at the Langley Events Centre, then head to South Surrey to play the Surrey Eagles Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

On Saturday night at the LEC, fans are encouraged to bring their new or gently used stuffed toys and throw them onto the ice after the Rivermen’s first goal.

Stuffed toys will be available to purchase by donation on the concourse, with all proceeds being split between local Christmas bureaus.

Meanwhile, the players are quietly confident going into the weekend, Henderson said.

“They’ve got a [collective] pretty level head on them, right now,” he added. “They know the preparation it takes and know they can beat any team in league, so they’re excited about that.”

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