Special night for Langley's Sutliffe
Judging by the results of Saturday night, Derek Sutliffe might have to bring his dad to town for more games.
With his dad in the stands at the Langley Events Centre, Sutliffe had a night to remember, scoring four goals and adding three assists as the Langley Rivermen routed the visiting Victoria Grizzlies 13-2
“It is a phenomenal feeling and one that I won’t forgot for a while,” Sutliffe said on Monday.
“And I was pretty excited that my dad was able to see it, it was a great feeling.”
Sutliffe combined with line mates Darnell Dyck (one goal, four assists) and Mike Tebbutt (two goals, three assists) for 17 points.
Mario Puskarich (three goals, one assist) and Evan Campbell (one goal, three assists) also had big games.
Sutliffe’s seven points were still five off the BCHL record shared by Ken Stroud and Joe Murphy, who each had a dozen points for Merritt (1977) and Penticton (1985), respectively.
Heading into the game, Sutliffe said he had no special feeling he was on the verge of something big.
“I prepared myself like any other game,” he said.
“I was excited that my dad was in town, so maybe that was it, but I am not sure.”
“Our line was just clicking and everything was going our way,” he added.
“It was a lot of fun.”
Even more impressive about the trio’s dominance was the fact that it came in a relatively short span in the game’s middle as they scored seven times in 26:48.
“As soon as I had two goals, I was thinking it would be really awesome if I could get my first career BCHL hat trick,” Sutliffe said. “But I didn’t want to think about it too much and have it play mind games with me.
“I was just going with the flow and luckily I got it.”
On two of the three goals, Sutliffe took feeds directly from Dyck, once on a one-timer and the other across the crease for a tap-in.
The second goal was another back-door tap-in, this time from Tebbutt.
And the fourth goal came on a penalty shot when Sutliffe did a pump fake, faked the forehand, did a leg kick and buried the back-hander.
Sutliffe said he can’t recall ever having a game as productive as this.
The 19-year-old from Las Vegas is in his first season in the BCHL.
“It is a great league, a fast league,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
“Derek has been, I would say, one of our most consistent players from day one,” said coach Steve O’Rourke.
“He has had very few off nights over the year.”
O’Rourke said Sutliffe utilized great speed to pressure the opponent.
The challenge for the 19-year-old is to build on this success.
“He came up here with a real defensive mindset and is a really good defensive player,” O’Rourke added.
“He just has to continue to believe that he is a point-producing guy.
‘I think a night like (Saturday) really helps him.”
The Rivermen wrapped up the weekend with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday afternoon at the LEC.
Thomas Nitsche, Austin Plevy, Ben Grenier, Tebbutt and Campbell had the goals while Sutliffe chipped in with a single assist.
So was he disappointed he didn’t chalk up more points against the worst team in the BCHL?
“As long as we get the win, it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Points are points, but I think a win is more important.”
He said the players were just excited to win back-to-back games — “that hasn’t happened in a while, the guys are pretty excited about that” — the first time they have done so since the end of November.
“I know we got the win, and we are excited about that, but at the end of the day, we still have a long ways to go for improvement and accountability how we play the game as a group,” O’Rourke said.
“A good thing is we won the games we should win,” he added, referring to the fact Trail is last in the BCHL with 23 points while Victoria is in a free fall with just a single point in their past 10 games.
The four points helped the Rivermen pull out of the Coastal Conference basement as they improved to 16-25-1-3 for 36 points.
Langley is in action on Wednesday (Feb. 1) when they host the Surrey Eagles at the LEC.
While qualifying for the playoffs is highly unlikely, O’Rourke said the remaining 15 games will be important for players hoping to stick with the team next year.
“It is playoff hockey for us; being responsible, doing the little things,” he said.
“We can be successful if we stick to the process.”