Rivermen filling back of the net

Ben Butcher (right) takes part in the Langley Rivermen
Ben Butcher (right) takes part in the Langley Rivermen's intrasquad game at Walnut Grove Sportsplex on Aug. 23. With training camp now done, Butcher and his teammates have posted a 2-1-1 record heading into their pre-season finale.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

If the last three games are any indication, goal scoring should not be a problem for this edition of the Langley Rivermen.

The local junior A hockey club scored a dozen goals combined in back-to-back pre-season tilts earlier this week as they ready for the start of the BCHL hockey season on Sept. 7.

Combine that with the eight goals they scored in the game prior, and that makes 20 times the Rivermen turned on the red light in the past three games.

The only blemish — besides it being just a small sample size — was the goose egg Langley put up in its first exhibition tilt.

The Rivermen began the week with a 7-4 victory on Monday (Aug. 27) over the Coquitlam Express.

After a scoreless first period, the second period saw six goals, four of which belonged to the Rivermen.

Coquitlam opened the scoring on a goal from Luca Leone, but on the very next shift, the Langley trio of Robinson, Tracy and Ben Butcher struck right back.

Tracy managed to hold the puck in along the boards, knocking it loose to Butcher, who skated to the high slot and fired a shot on goal. And while the Coquitlam made the initial save, Robinson scooped up the rebound and fired it home.

Trevor Cope made it 2-1 for Langley with a breakaway goal after he was sent in all alone following a beautiful pass from Austin Azurdia.

And after Brady Shaw made it 2-2, the Rivermen power play went to work with a couple of late tallies from their top line of Mario Puskarich, Mitch McLain and Jakob Reichert.

Reichert made it 3-2 when he whacked a puck out of mid-air off a McLain shot, and McLain doubled the lead, converting a pass from Puskarich from behind the net.

The third period began with Langley's third straight goal, this time Evan Campbell picked the top right corner off a nice feed from Ben Greiner.

The Express tried to mount a comeback, with Sam Majka making it a 5-3 game, but McLain buried his second of the night with a laser-like wrist shot in the top left corner.

Langley's Trevor Cope and Coquitlam's Jace Hennig traded goals in the last minute for the 7-4 final score.

Darren Hogg was in goal for the Rivermen.

The next night saw Langley to Merritt and skate away with a 5-5 tie against the host Centennials.

Azurdia opened the scoring for the visitors just a minute into the contest, banking the puck off a defender and into the Merritt goal.

Reichert, who was acquired from the Cents in the off-season, made it 2-0 against his former club, muscling his way towards the net and jamming home his own rebound with a couple of defenders draped all over him.

And Puskarich then made it 3-0, taking a feed from Victor Dombrovskiy and sweeping a back-hand shot through the Merritt goalie's five-hole.

But the second period was a role reversal as this time Merritt scored three times in the frame, with Derek Huisman, Jeff Wight and Danton Heinen all finding the back of the net.

The third period was anyone's game.

Merritt took their first lead of the night as Diego Cuglietta scored a beauty, deking the defence and ripping a shot home past Conor Barrie.

McLain quickly pulled the Rivermen back on even terms, pouncing on a loose puck and scoring on a wrist shot, is sixth point in the last two games.

Huisman again put the home side up by one, but Derek Sutliffe changed that, scoring a short-handed goal with five minutes remaining.

Sutliffe picked up the puck in the neutral zone, went in one-on-one and executed the perfect toe-drag move around the defender and hammered home a snap shot over the shoulder of the Centennials goaltender.

The Rivermen wrap up the pre-season on Sept. 2 when they play the Wenatchee Wild at the Aldergrove Arena with a 7 p.m. puck drop.

Langley opens the BCHL regular season on Sept. 7 as they take part in the league's Showcase at Chilliwack's Prospera Centre. All 16 teams will be in attendance and will play two games over the three days.

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