The Langley Rivermen’s post-season destiny is already mapped out in front of them.
Regardless of how they fare in their final three games of the B.C. Hockey League’s regular season, the Rivermen will finish third in the Mainland Division — and as a result will face their rival Chilliwack Chiefs in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Rivermen carry a 29-18-6-2 record going into Thursday’s home game against the mighty Wenatchee Wild (43-9-4) at the George Preston Recreation Centre.
That puts the ’Men in third place in the Mainland behind the Chiefs (40-10-6) and division front-running Wild.
There’s no catching the Wild and the Chiefs — as a matter of fact, both have been specks in the distance for quite some time.
Meanwhile, the fourth-place Prince George Spruce Kings (24-25-4-2) are 12 points back of the Rivermen with just three games to go in their regular season.
So, the opening round of the playoffs shapes up like this: the fourth place Spruce Kings have the unenviable task of taking on the first place Wild in a best-of-seven series.
The second place Chiefs and third place Rivermen will square off in the other best-of-seven Mainland set.
The Rivermen are coming off a 4-0 shutout of the visiting Spruce Kings on Monday at the GPRC, marking head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson’s 150th career win behind the bench.
Moving forward, Henderson said the Rivermen are playing for momentum as they prepare for the post-season.
“We just want to be peaking when hit that Friday night (March 3) game,” Henderson told the Times on Tuesday, referring to the team’s playoff opener against the Chiefs in Chilliwack.
“I thought we played pretty solid (against the Spruce Kings) and we want to continue where we left off.”
But the Rivermen have a lot of work ahead of them.
After Thursday’s game, the Rivermen and the Wild hit the GPRC ice once again on Friday. Both games have 7:15 p.m. opening puck drops.
The wounds are still fresh from the last two-game set between the teams at the Toyota Town Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
On home ice, the Wild pounded the Rivermen 10-2 on Feb. 17 and then 6-1 on Feb. 18.
“Take it, toss it out and keep moving forward,” Henderson said, about last weekend’s series against Wenatchee that saw his team get outscored 16-3 in two games.
After their two-game series with the Wild, the Rivermen finish off their regular season with yet another meeting with the Spruce Kings, this time on Saturday at the GPRC. Game time is 6 p.m.
Even more incentive for the Rivermen to have a strong finish to their final three games of the regular season: they need just two points out of a possible six in order to surpass their point total from last season, when they finished 33-22-3-2.
“Our mindset right from training camp was to win every game,” Henderson said. “I think we’ve matured and the guys are showing what they’re capable of and are play to their potential. There’s no reason why we can’t make some headway.”