Brendan Gulka is hoping to use his hands to hurt opposing teamâ€™s on the scoreboard this season.
The gritty Langley Rivermen forward scored two of his teamâ€™s four third period goals, including the game winner, and added an assist in the â€™Menâ€™s 7-4 win over the host Vernon Vipers Sunday afternoon.
â€œI want to contribute more to the team this season,â€ said the 20-year-old Gulka, who tallied two goals and racked up 44 minutes in penalties last season. â€œNot just on the fighting side of it, but more with points, so in the off-season I worked on my shot and getting to the areas where the goals are scored.â€
Sundayâ€™s win was the Rivermenâ€™s first of the B.C. Hockey League campaign, after the regular season points leaders from last year stumbled out to an 0-2 start.
Along with a pair of goals, Gulka assisted on Jacob Zeleznikarâ€™s marker, which opened the scoring in the first period.
â€œWithout his effort tonight it couldâ€™ve easily been a different result,â€ Langley assistant coach Kurt Astle said, regarding Gulka. â€œIt was good to see him have a game like that, early in the season.â€
Langley had a full week of preparation coming into todayâ€™s game, where they worked their forecheck and power play.
The Rivermen converted on two of their four power play opportunities as captain Kevan Kilistoff and returnee Gage Torrel each scored their first goals of the season, late in the second period.
â€œOur power play got a lot of work in practice,â€ Astle said. â€œIt was a pleasure to see that hard work pay off. Weâ€™re happy with the result in our special teams and weâ€™ll try and continue it next week.â€
Langley also did a good job staying out of the box, only having to kill off three penalties during the game.
Darren Martin got the start in net for the Rivermen, stopping 23 shots in the victory.
It was a back-and-forth game, with the Vipers quickly countering, whenever the Rivermen found the net.
The Rivermen opened the game up in the third period, thanks to some timely goals from Gulka and Will Cook.
Marcus Vela added an empty net marker to seal the victory for the visitors.
â€œResiliency is something weâ€™ve been getting across to our guys,â€ Astle said. â€œWhen we get scored on, we just have to push back, that was another big focus for us all week.â€
Vela and Cook each had a goal and two assists in the victory.
Zeleznikar chipped in with a goal and an assist in the win.
Langleyâ€™s next game is this Friday, Oct. 3 when they visit the Coquitlam Express.
The following day is the Rivermenâ€™s home opener when they host the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Langley Events Centre.
Game time is 7 p.m.
The first 1,500 fans receive a Rivermen Foam Finger, presented by Global BC.
Fans will also receive two-for-one entry when they bring a food or cash donation to the Global Food Bank.
ICE CHIPS: Will Campion, Zac Masson, and Jordan Schneider got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
The Vipers outshot the Rivermen 27-26.
â€“ with files from Langley Events Centre media relations coordinator Kevin Berar