Suddenly surging Langley Rivermen snap Penticton Vees’ 23-game win streak

Winners of their past three, Langley’s juniors have a busy stretch ahead of them, starting Thursday at home against Prince George.

What a weekend it was for the Langley Rivermen.

Langley’s junior As toppled a B.C. Hockey League giant on Friday, ending the Penticton Vees’ 23-game unbeaten streak by doubling the visitors 4-2 in front of 2,012 fans at the Langley Events Centre.

Momentum spilled over into the next night, when the Rivermen beat the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters by that same 4-2 score.

The Rivermen, who just recently snapped a five-game losing skid, are now riding a three-game win streak into their three-games-in-three-nights stretch starting Thursday at the LEC, when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings starting at 7:15 p.m.

After that, the Merritt Centennials come to the LEC to play the Rivermen Friday at 7:15 p.m., and the Langley juniors cap the weekend with a Saturday night home game against the West Kelowna Warriors.

The Rivermen’s Nov. 28 tilt with the Warriors has an early start time of 6 p.m.

“It’s nice to get a few in a row, here,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said. “We’ve got another tough weekend so we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Henderson believes his players are starting to play to their potential.

“Our team went through a tough stretch where there learned a lot of small lessons along the way,” Henderson said. “Those are lessons learned through the season, to do the small things it takes to win hockey games in this league. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

To put the Penticton win in perspective, this is a team that hadn’t lost since opening night and took its frustrations out on the Coquitlam Express the next night, steamrolling the Express 8-2 to improve its record to 24-2.

“It’s huge for the confidence of our group,” Henderson said.

“We played a pretty good game up there and had a chance to win it,” he added, referencing the Oct. 17 game between the teams, where the Vees edged the Rivermen 4-3 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“We just weren’t ready to get it done at that point. We’ve grown as a team. This was a glimpse of the potential that our team has.”

In the win, Langley’s Max Kaufman snapped a 2-2 tie, scoring a power play goal with 1:20 to go in regulation. His teammate Torrin White added an empty netter with 36 seconds left on the clock to seal the win.

Zac Masson and Dominic Franco also scored for the Rivermen, while goalie Bo Didur stopped 27 of 29 shots fired his way.

The next night, the Rivermen doubled up on a Trail Smoke Eaters team that Henderson said gave them a real tough go of it.

The Rivermen trailed 2-1 going into the third period, before scoring the only three goals of the final frame.

“Give them full credit; they had us on the ropes after the first period but we got better as the game went on,” Henderson said.  “Early on, there might have been a bit of a hangover from the night before. That was a mentally exhausting game and a big relief at the end so it took us a while to get back on track. We really peaked in third period and played with confidence.”

Defenceman William Campion, Justin Szeto (with the unassisted winner 6:42 into the frame) and White with his second empty net goal in as many nights scored in the third period for the Rivermen.

In his first game in a Rivermen uniform, blueliner Troy Ring scored Langley’s first goal to tie the game at 1-1. It was Ring’s first BCHL goal.

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