Sports

Ustaski leads way as Rivermen sweep weekend

Langley’s Matt Ustaski dodges the check of Coquitlam’s Marc Biega during the Express’ 3-2 victory on Dec. 30. The Rivermen — led by Ustaski, the BCHL player of the week — bounced back with three victories over the weekend. - Dan Ebenal/Black Press
Langley’s Matt Ustaski dodges the check of Coquitlam’s Marc Biega during the Express’ 3-2 victory on Dec. 30. The Rivermen — led by Ustaski, the BCHL player of the week — bounced back with three victories over the weekend.
— image credit: Dan Ebenal/Black Press

The Langley Rivermen continue to work their overtime magic.

For the seventh time this season, the junior A BCHL club emerged victorious, with Matt Ustaski scoring the OT winner just 15 seconds into the extra period on Friday night over the host Chilliwack Chiefs at the Prospera Centre in a 4-3 Rivermen victory.

By comparison, no other team in the league has more than four overtime wins.

“It is do-or-die time,” said Ustaski, about the team’s mentality when the game goes to sudden death.

“Everyone just seems to step up their game.”

In a dozen overtime games this season, the Rivermen have won seven and tied once.

And Friday’s victory not only snapped a three-game losing streak — which featured two overtime defeats — but it propelled Langley to two more victories, 5-1 over the Surrey Eagles on Saturday night and then 6-2 over the Cowichan Valley Capitals the following afternoon. Both of those were played at the Langley Events Centre.

Ustaski said it was nice to get the team back on track following their short skid to end 2013, especially with just 16 games to play in the regular season.

“We are on the right track,” he said.

“We have had better pace in practice and I think it translates into the games.”

And Ustaski was a big part of all three victories the forward scored four times — including two game-winners — and set up two other goals to earn BCHL player of the week honours.

Ustaski gave a lot of credit to his line-mates Mitch McLain and Jakob Reichert as the trio combined for six goals and 13 points.

Rivermen 4 Chiefs 3 (OT)

Langley overcame a hat trick from Chilliwack’s Mathieu Tibbet thanks to two goals from Ustaski — including the overtime winner — while Reichert and Austin Azurdia had the other goals.

The Rivemen never led in the game until the final whistle sounded.

Brock Crossthwaite made 18 saves for the win.

Rivermen 5 Eagles 1

The Rivermen got goals from five different players — Kevan Kilistoff, Ustaski, Reichert, James Robison and Will Cook — while Crossthwaite stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

Rivermen 6 Capitals 2

Langley scored three times in the first 10 minutes and never looked back.

Robinson, Cook and Jackson Wanieck scored in the first while Darien Craighead made it 4-0 after 40 minutes.

Both teams scored twice in the third with Azurdia and Ustaski getting goals sandwiched around a pair of power-play markers from the Capitals’ Brayden Gelsinger and Matthew Berry-Lamontagna.

Lyndon Stanwood stopped 26 shots for the win.

•••••

With the perfect weekend, the Rivermen (25-12-1-4, 55 points) sit seven points clear of the second-place Prince George Spruce Kings ( 22-13-2-2, 48 points) for top spot in the BCHL’s Mainland Division. Prince George does hold three games in hand.

The Rivermen have a home-and-home series with the last-place Chiefs (10-27-1-3) this weekend. The teams play at the LEC on Friday and in Chilliwack on Saturday night.

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