Rivermen defeat BCHL’s top team

Langley Rivermen
Langley Rivermen's Viktor Dombrovskiy (left) and Surrey Eagles' captain Brett Mulcahy try to track down the bouncing puck during the Eagles' 4-1 victory at the South Surrey Arena on Feb. 11.
— image credit: Garrett James

The Langley Rivermen still have work to do if they hope to compete with the powers of the B.C. Hockey League.

The local junior A hockey club faced a tough test, battling three of the BCHL’s top four teams in a span of four days.

And the team got off to a great start, doubling up the Island Division-leading Victoria Grizzlies 6-3 on Friday night at the Langley Events Centre. The Grizzlies are also the top team in the entire league.

But that was the highlight of the weekend as they dropped a 5-0 home-ice loss to the Merritt Centennials on Saturday.

The Rivermen closed the long weekend on Monday afternoon, coming up on the wrong end of a 5-1 loss to the Mainland Division-leading Surrey Eagles at the South Surrey Arena.

“We are definitely in games, we are competitive,” said Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.

“It is consistency (that we need) and that is part of the inexperience.”

“But we expect results; we have to be better.”

Against Victoria, Langley led 3-0 five minutes into the game and then 6-1 after 40 minutes.

Austin Azurdia paced the attack with two goals and an assist while Mitch McLain, James Robinson and Derek Sutliffe had the other goals.

James Barr stopped 35 shots for the win.

And then after getting blanked the next night at home, Langley managed just a single goal in the 4-1 loss to Surrey, with Mario Puskarich scoring in the third period.

The goal was his 31st of the season and his 65 points have him tied for the BCHL scoring lead with three other players, including former Rivermen player Austin Plevy, now of the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Rivermen hold a slim three-point lead over the Coquitlam Express for the Mainland Division’s fourth and final playoff spot. Langley does have three games in hand on the Express.

Langley also has a shot at catching the third-place Prince George Spruce Kings, who are eights points up. The Rivermen have one game in hand on Prince George and they also play the Spruce Kings four times over the season’s final 10 games, including today (Thursday) and tomorrow in Prince George.

They return home for a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. at the LEC against the Nanaimo Clippers.

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