All in all, it was a nice little stretch of games for the Langley Rivermen.
The local junior As won two of three contests, losing 5-3 at home to the Wenatchee Wild Thursday before rallying with solid road performances on Vancouver Island Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday night, the Rivermen downed the Nanaimo Clippers 4-1 at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena.
Then, Sunday afternoon, the Rivermen put forth their most dominant win of the season, blanking the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-0 at Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni.
The ’Men emerged from the weekend with an 8-11-3-1 record and are now tied for fourth place with the Surrey Eagles (9-12-2) in the B.C. Hockey League’s Mainland Division.
“We really wanted to make this a statement weekend,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said, “and part of that is winning on the road. To do that on consecutive days in two tough buildings – that’s a trend we want to continue.”
Henderson said the Rivermen’s penalty killers played a huge role in the team’s consecutive victories.
“One of the keys was to focus on our penalty kill,” he said. “We killed eight straight [opposition power plays] this weekend, so it’s nice to see that commitment and willingness to block shots.”
The Rivermen are riding a two-game win streak despite missing their offensive quarterback Max Kaufman who, going into the weekend, held the team lead in points with 25.
Kaufman has a hand injury and is still a ways away from returning to the lineup.
“His absence provides an opportunity for other players [to take a bigger offensive role], and a lot of guys stepped up,” Henderson said. “We’re getting contributions from all four lines and our ‘d’ is chipping in. Plus our power play has been clicking.”
Wenatchee Wild 5, Rivermen 3
The Mainland Division-leading Wild possess the BCHL’s best record at 17-2-1, and proved why they’re a league powerhouse Nov. 10 at the George Preston Recreation Centre (GPRC).
Wenatchee overcame a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes by scoring three unanswered third-period goals, including an empty net marker.
The Rivermen looked terrific for two-thirds of the game, leading 2-1 after the first period and then carrying a one-goal advantage into the third.
Satchel Clendenin, Cooper Leitch, and Zac Masson scored the Rivermen’s goals.
The Wild owned the third period, outshooting the Rivermen 22-9.
“We had a great 40 minutes there, but for us, it’s a mental thing that we need to get over to close out a game like that,” Henderson said. “We didn’t manage to get it done, but we are closer in that regard.”
Rivermen 4, Nanaimo Clippers 1
The ’Men got the bounce-back effort they needed Saturday night.
The Rivermen and Clippers were tied at a goal after one period of play, but after that, the visitors grabbed the reins.
They scored the only goal of the second period and tacked on two more in the third frame, while holding the Clippers off the scoresheet.
Forwards Brendan Budy, Gavin Payne, and Ryan Barrow led the Rivermen with a goal and an assist each.
McKay Flanagan (on a power play) also scored for the visitors while Braedon Fleming had a good night in goal, stopping 31 of 32 shots.
Rivermen 7, Alberni Valley Bulldogs 0
Everything went right for the ’Men on enemy ice Sunday afternoon.
Bo Didur recorded his second shutout of the season while seven Rivermen found the net.
Barrow led the way with a goal and four assists and has overtaken Kaufman atop the Rivermen’s scoring table with 28 points, including 10 goals.
Sean Gulka and Nicholas Ponak each scored a goal and an assist for the Rivermen. Other goals came off the sticks of Budy, John Schuldt, Andrew Dumaresque, and Eric Butte.
“We did a lot of things right,” Henderson said. “No. 1, we played fast and physical. We did a good job committing to defence, managing the puck, and eliminating turnovers. Overall, we did a good job asserting ourselves as a group.”
The Rivermen are back in action tonight (Nov. 16 ) when they travel to Vernon to play the Vipers.
They return to the GPRC this Saturday to host Nanaimo. Game time is 6 p.m.