Forget about the fact they have a measly six wins in 47 games this season – the Surrey Eagles are not an easy out.
The Langley Rivermen are well aware of this, and were happy to earn the two points over the Eagles in B.C. Hockey League action Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
The ’Men spotted the Eagles an early 1-0 lead before skating to a 4-2 win, to improve their record to 27-18-2-1.
The local juniors now sit two points back of the Wenatchee Wild in a two-team battle for second spot in the BCHL’s Mainland Division.
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson was happy with the way his team responded in the final game of what was a gruelling weekend (Sunday’s game was Langley’s third in as many days, and the ’Men were coming off a tough 5-2 loss to the Wild the night before at the LEC).
“I thought we played well,” Henderson said. “We stuck to our game plan cap and when we needed it, we got good goaltending. They [the Eagles] battle hard every game, so to get two points against them is big.”
After Surrey’s Jeffrey Stewart opened the scoring 11:07 into the opening frame, the Rivermen responded with three quick goals in the final three minutes of the period, including two back-to-back from Matty Saharchuk and one off the stick of Max Kaufman.
Justin Fregona scored his 23rd of the season late in the second period to give the Rivermen a 4-1 lead.
The third period was highlighted by a few brilliant saves on both sides of the ice from Langley’s Bo Didur and Surrey’s Daniel Davidson.
Surrey’s Kurt Black scored the only goal of the final frame to close out the scoring.
Wenatchee Wild 5, Rivermen 2
The Rivermen didn’t have their skating legs Saturday at the LEC, and lost by three to Washington’s Wild.
On goals from Justin Szeto and Jason O’Neill, the ’Men carried a 2-0 lead into the second period before things started to unravel.
The Wild scored the only two goals of the middle frame to tie the game, and owned the third (including notching their third and fourth markers of the night, scored 1:01 apart from each other early in the frame).
When the smoke cleared, the Wild filled the Rivermen’s net with five pucks while holding the hosts scoreless over the final 40 minutes.
“I wasn’t too happy with the way we played,” Henderson said. “I felt we were chasing the game and we were lucky to get up early. But to get a lead like that at home, we should be able to protect it.”
On a bright note, Henderson added, “We showed some flashes of what we can be. I like the way we stack up against them [the Wild] and we’re looking forward to seeing them again this year.”
Rivermen 4, Merritt Centennials 3 (double OT)
The Rivermen got off to a great start to their busy weekend with a win in Merritt.
Down 2-1 and 3-2 at different points of Friday’s game at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, the ’Men never gave up.
Langley tied the game late in the third period before scoring in double overtime to upend the Centennials 4-3.
Matthew Graham scored the winner – his 20th of the season – 48 seconds into the second overtime period.
Langley’s Torrin White found the net twice – opening the scoring midway through the first period before tying the game at 3-3 with 2:53 to go in regulation – to bring his goal total to 19 on the campaign.
Kaufman also scored for the Rivermen.
The Cents’ Henry Cleghorn scored with 4:06 remaining in the third period to give the home team a short-lived 3-2 lead.
White tied the game 1:11 after Cleghorn’s go-ahead goal.
Langley goalie Nickolas Trenciansky made 21 saves to earn the win.
Despite their 17-26-4-1 record, and the fact they sit at the bottom of the Interior Division, the Cents offered a stern test, Henderson noted.
“You’ve gotta keep it in perspective,” Henderson said. “They beat [leage-leading] Penticton [Jan. 27] at home so it’s tough place to play. It’s like you’re playing in a matchbox there and things happen fast, so to a get double OT, extra point there is huge.”
With a playoff berth in their back pocket, the Rivermen are looking to gain momentum before the post-season gets underway.
“We just want to improve every week,” Henderson said. “There are little lessons to learn every game and we want to make sure we’re peaking at the right time. We want to put it together going into the playoffs and hopefully go on a big run.”
The Rivermen head south of the border Friday and Saturday (Feb. 5 and 6) to play back-to-back games against the Wild at Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center.