Langley Rivermen forward Levi Hulston fended off Coquitlam Express defenceman David Giunta during Saturday’s B.C. Hockey League game at the George Preston Recreation Centre. The Rivermen beat the Express 8-1.

Rivermen doubled by Chiefs, blast Express to open BCHL campaign

Langley bounced back nicely from a loss to Chilliwack the night before, by trouncing Coquitlam.

The opening weekend of the B.C. Hockey League season was quite a roller coaster ride for the Langley Rivermen.

Friday and Saturday were polar opposites, with the ’Men steamrolling the Coquitlam Express 8-1 Saturday at their new home, the George Preston Recreation Centre (GPRC), one night after a suffering a tough 6-3 loss on home ice at the hands of the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs.

Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson pinpointed the culprit, in his team’s season-opening loss to the Chiefs: “Really, our attention to detail. Definitely, we gave up a couple or three goals that were a little weak. In the first period we were on top of our game, but there were just a couple of mental lapses [after that] that cost us.”

Meanwhile, Henderson isn’t reading too much into Saturday’s lopsided score.

He was more concerned with getting a ‘W’ in the books, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard.

“It’s nice to get the first win out of the way,” he said. “Coquitlam will improve and their goaltending will tighten up, so you can’t read too much into it. Every night is a battle in this league, so you learn from your losses and take parts from your wins – you take from one or the other over the course of the season.”

Henderson said the message from Friday night’s loss to the Chiefs is, “you have to be tight for the full 60 [minutes] or things will get out of hand fast.”

Rivermen 8, Coquitlam Express 1

The Rivermen outshot the Express 50-32 and took over in the second period, pouring in five unanswered goals to transform a 2-0 lead into a 7-0 blowout in the opening eight-and-a-half minutes of the frame, before the Express put one on the board with 4:03 to go in the period.

Max Kaufman led the Rivermen with a pair of goals, including the game winner. Brendan Budy, Gavin Payne, team captain Cooper Leitch, Satchel Clendenin, Trevor Ayre, and Nicholas Ponak also scored in a very balanced Langley attack.

Chilliwack Chiefs 6, Rivermen 3

An old nemesis wrecked the Rivermen’s 2016/17 housewarming party Friday.

The Chiefs doubled the ’Men in the B.C. Hockey League season opener for both teams.

This was the Rivermen’s first regular season game at the GPRC since moving over

Rivermen 8, Coquitlam Express 1

The Rivermen outshot the Express 50-32 and took over in the second period, pouring in five unanswered goals to transform a 2-0 lead into a 7-0 blowout in the opening eight-and-a-half minutes of the frame, before the Express put one on the board with 4:03 to go in the period.

The hosts tacked on another goal in the final frame to close out the night’s scoring.

Max Kaufman led the Rivermen with a pair of goals, including the game winner. Brendan Budy, Gavin Payne, team captain Cooper Leitch, Satchel Clendenin, Trevor Ayre, and Nicholas Ponak also scored in a very balanced Langley attack.

Chilliwack Chiefs 6, Rivermen 3

An old nemesis wrecked the Rivermen’s 2016/17 housewarming party Friday.

The Chiefs doubled the ’Men in the B.C. Hockey League season opener for both teams.

This was the Rivermen’s first regular season game at the GPRC since moving over from the Langley Events Centre (LEC) last May.

The ’Men did play a their home playoff games against the Wenatchee Wild at the GPRC last spring, because their former home, the LEC, was being used for the B.C. high school basketball championships.

Ponak scored the Rivermen’s first goal of the campaign just 1:49 after puck drop to open the scoring.

The Chiefs responded with the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission.

Langley’s Ryan Barrow scored an unassisted, shorthanded goal 4:11 into the second frame to tie the score at 2-2.

But on the same power play, the Chiefs killed the Rivermen’s momentum when Connor McCarthy found the net, just 35 seconds after Barrow’s goal to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

After Kale Kane put the Chiefs ahead 4-2, the Rivermen’s Zac Masson scored to bring Langley to within one, at 4-3.

With 7:58 to go in the middle frame, the Chiefs’ Linden Hora restored Chilliwack’s two-goal lead.

In the third period, McCarthy’s second of the night at the 6:16 mark was the only goal of the frame as the Chiefs won by a three-goal margin.

The third period was a feisty one with a pair of fights – Langley’s Sean Gulka taking on Chiliwack’s Will Calverley and less than five minutes later, Ponak dropping the gloves with the Chiefs’ Will Calverley.

Mark Sinclair earned the win in goal for the Chiefs while Langley netminder Bo Didur took the loss.

The Chiefs had a slight, 33-31 edge in shots.

(Read more below)

Reflecting on the weekend, Henderson said there were some standout performances, including Didur in goal, Barrow, Masson, and Kaufman up front, and rookie defenceman Reid Yochim.

“It’s nice to see Bo [Didur] play well both games,” he said. “On Saturday, he was phenomenal against Coquitlam, even though it was a lopsided score. It was a pretty solid performance from a lot of guys up and down the lineup.”

Henderson pointed out that two Langley products made an impact: Gulka brought a physical presence to the lineup while Brandon Budy posted two points versus Coquitlam.

FINAL BUZZER: The Rivermen’s next game is Saturday versus the Chiefs at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre, an arena that the ’Men will become very familiar with in the near future.

That’s because the true litmus test for the Rivermen comes at Prospera Centre, the site of the 2016 Bauer BCHL Showcase.

All 17 BCHL teams will be in action during the Showcase, which runs Sept. 21 to 25.

The competition has the Rivermen playing Penticton at 10 a.m. Sept. 22, Victoria at 4 p.m. Sept. 24, and the Chiefs at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.

Henderson said going on the road this early in the season is a good thing.

“It gives us a chance to grow as a team and learn how hard it is to compete on the road,” he said. “The earlier you do it, the better off you are for it.”

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