Five days, four towns and three victories. That is the net result of the most grueling road trip of the season for the Langley Rivermen.
“It was a good experience for us, hanging out on the bus over the four days,” said Mitch McLain, the captain of the junior A hockey club and the team’s leading scorer with 31 points in 31 games.
“And we needed a bounce back weekend, we hadn’t been playing good hockey,” he added.
The Rivermen improved to 19-10-1-2 and with 41 points, have a three-point lead over the Prince George Spruce Kings for top spot in the BCHL’s Mainland Division.
“Four in five, coach Henderson has us in great shape and I think we were ready to go physically,” McLain said.
And Prince George was the launch point of the road trip as the Rivermen opened the trek with a 2-1 victory last week (Nov. 27).
Brock Crossthwaite earned first star honours with a 31-save performance while Jakob Reichert and Will Cook scored the goals.
In Penticton two nights later, James Robinson put the Rivermen ahead 3-2 early in the third but the Vees quickly took the lead with goals three minutes apart.
But Langley battled back with goals from Matt Ustaski and Gage Torrel 83 seconds apart for the 5-4 win.
And it seemed the trip caught up to the Rivermen the next night in West Kelowna as Langley was down 3-0 after two period to the Warriors. Even more telling where the shots on goal as the visitors trailed 31-10.
The lone goal in the 5-1 loss came from Reichert as he scored for the third straight game.
Back at home versus the Chiefs, Langley was down 1-0 after one period, but Kevan Kilistoff and Matt Ustaski scored second period goals and Viktor Dombrovskiy and Cook extended the lead in what turned out to be a 4-2 victory.
Crossthwaite was in goal for all three wins as he finished the week with a .925 save percentage.
“We faced some adversity in Penticton, but played hard and came out with two points,” McLain said.
“And I think the road trip caught up to us a little bit and we didn’t play our best hockey (against West Kelowna) so we needed a bounce back here at home and that’s what we did.”
The Rivermen, winners of five of their past six games, are back on the road this weekend with games in Trail on Friday and Salmon Arm on Saturday.
“There is room for improvement but I think we are on track and we are confident with what we are doing,” McLain said.
“But I think we are back and can do what we need to do and rip off a few more wins.”