Langley Rivermen host Chiefs, Smokies

The Langley Rivermen have a key stretch ahead of them, starting tonight.

The Rivermen, who include top prospect Marcus Vela, who is ranked 123rd on the on the NHL Central Scouting List, play host to the Chilliwack Chiefs tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 21) at the Langley Events Centre.

Game time is 7 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, the Rivermen host the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday at the LEC, also with a 7 p.m. start time.

The Rivermen (23-16-1-4) will meet a familiar foe when they clash against the Chiefs (25-14-1-1) tonight.

It doesn’t get any more evenly matched between these division rivals as the Rivermen trail the Chiefs by one point for top spot in the Mainland Division as each has won three times in their six previous meetings this season.

“There’s not too much buildup needed for tonight,” Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson said. “Both teams know what’s on the line; it should be another good one.”

The previous meeting saw the Rivermen dominate from start to finish running away with a 5-1 victory at the LEC on Jan.11.

“That was the best game of the year for our line, including myself,” said Rivermen forward Matt Graham, who had four points in that contest. “We’re just focused on tonight’s game, we know they’re not happy that we’ve beaten them the last two times but we’ll be ready and it’ll be another good test for us.”

Graham will look to continue his hot streak, as the Bedford, Nova Scotia native has scored eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last four games.

“We’re pretty much playing the same as the beginning of the season but it’s all to do with confidence,” he said. “You can just tell in warm-up that our whole line has a good swagger and that’s what you need to be dominant in this stretch of the year. It’s been a lot more enjoyable since the break.”

Langley is coming off a 4-1 win against Surrey last Friday, in a night where they clinched a playoff spot. Hunter Anderson led the way with a goal and an assist and Bo Didur stopped 27 of 28 shots to pick up his fifteenth win of the season.

Didur and forward Vela are expected to be back in time after playing in the CJHL Prospects game in Oakville, Ont. last night. Vela is expected to be in the lineup and Didur will be a game time decision.

Proving there’s no love lost between Langley and Chilliwack, in the six match-ups this season, there’s been 186 penalty minutes, five fighting majors and 17 misconducts.

“It feels like playoff hockey every time we play them,” said Captain Kevan Kilistoff. “We have another chance to move into first place and in order to do that we have to play our best game against a good opponent.”

The Chiefs, who also clinched a playoff spot last weekend, have won two in a row, both by 4-2 scores over Victoria and Surrey.

Backstopped by new goaltender David Jacobson, Chilliwack leapt back into first place in the division as they still have three games in hand over the Rivermen which could prove crucial down the stretch with just over a month remaining in the BCHL regular season schedule.

The teams will play for a final time in the regular season on February 18 at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.

ICE CHIPS: Vela is one of five BCHL players on the midterm player rankings. There were 210 North American skaters rated along with 35 North American goalies.

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