The Langley Rivermen are sharing space at the Langley Events Centre with high-profile fellow tenants.
The start of the new year signals the return of the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Stealth, who play their home games at the LEC.
The Stealth play at the LEC’s Arena Bowl on Saturday nights (upcoming home dates are Jan. 23, Feb. 6 and 20, March 5 and 19, and April 2, 16, and 23).
Sharing digs with the pro lacrosse team is nothing new to Langley’s junior A hockey club, led by head coach Bobby Henderson.
After all, this is something the Rivermen and Stealth have been doing since the Stealth debuted at the LEC in January 2014.
Since day one, Henderson hasn’t been worried about the Stealth hogging the sports spotlight.
“They are two different demographics,” the Rivermen’s bench boss said, adding there are a few “cross-over fans” who follow both junior A hockey and pro lacrosse in town.
Henderson noted that in terms of attendance numbers over the past few seasons, the Rivermen have been “pretty consistent across the board.”
Stealth president and general manager Doug Locker believes the two teams complement each other, adding, “I don’t think it impacts either of us negatively whatsoever.”
Locker added, “the price points for both [pro lacrosse and junior A hockey] tickets are relatively inexpensive. I don’t view it as being an issue in the slightest, to be honest.”
Having high level lacrosse and hockey in the community adds even more entertainment options in Langley, Locker noted.
“I look at it as a real positive thing,” Locker said.
“When I’m in town and a Rivermen game is on, I’m going to the game. I enjoy watching [junior hockey] and I have a have appreciation for what those guys are doing.”
This Saturday, Jan. 16, the Rivermen will host the Nanaimo Clippers at the LEC. Opening puck drop is 6 p.m.
It will be the second of back-to-back games for the ’Men, who will look to snap a three-game losing skid Friday when they visit Coquitlam to play the Express.
The Rivermen came up empty on Vancouver Island last weekend, losing 5-2 to Cowichan Valley on Saturday and 5-0 to Victoria on Sunday.
“It didn’t go well,” Henderson said. “We were up 2-0 on Cowichan and then the wheels fell off, and that was pretty much the theme of the weekend.”
Versus Cowichan Valley, the Rivermen jumped ahead by two in the first period on goals from Zachary Bleuler and Justin Szeto.
That was all the offence they could muster for the rest of the weekend.
The Capitals stormed back to tie the game before the period was through (including their first marker of the night, scored eight seconds after Szeto made it 2-0 for the Rivermen), before adding two goals in the second frame and one more in the third to win by a three-goal margin.
The next day against Victoria, the Grizzlies took over after a scoreless first period, scoring twice in the second frame and adding three more in the third period to win 5-0.
Despite the recent skid, the Rivermen remain third in the BCHL’s six-team Mainland Division with a 22-17-0-1 record.