With a punishing schedule that saw them play 10 games in 21 days behind them, the Langley Rivermen finally got a breather to wrap up October.
The local junior As only played once last weekend, edging the Surrey Eagles 3-2 in front a larger-than-usual crowd of 792 fans Saturday at the George Preston Recreation Centre.
Saturday’s win improved the Rivermen to 5-9-3-1 on the season.
“I thought the guys played really well,” Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said.
“It’s nice to get reset and refocused. The guys looked fresh and had good jump. They had a good compete level and I was happy with the effort.”
The Rivermen led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 after 40 minutes of play, on goals from Eric Butte and Brendan Budy.
The Eagles rallied early in the third frame when Jordan Robert and Desi Burgart scored 39 seconds apart to tie the game at two.
But just 53 seconds after Burgart tied the score at 2-2, Nicholas Ponak tallied his 11th of the campaign to restore the Rivermen lead.
Ponak’s goal stood up as the game winner.
The Rivermen are happy to have October in the rear-view – it was a pretty rough month.
Decimated by injuries, the ’Men went 3-5-0-3 and now sit tied with the Coquitlam Express for fourth in the B.C. Hockey League’s six-team Mainland Division.
“[Considering the] circumstances, I was pretty happy with the effort though the month,” Henderson said. “We played pretty good hockey along the way. All in all, I’m happy with the direction the team is headed.”
While the Eagles sit at the bottom of the Mainland (and BCHL) with a 4-11-2 record, they were no easy mark, Henderson said: “They are an improved hockey team. They gave us all we can handle. There are no gimme points in this league, that’s for sure.”
Rivermen goaltender Bo Didur was named first star of the game, stopping 23 of 25 Eagles shots.
The Rivermen are back at it with a home-and-home series with the Eagles this Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, the teams meet at South Surrey Arena with a 6:30 p.m. opening puck drop.
Game time is 7:15 p.m.
With a fresh new month in front of his team, Henderson said, “the guys are in a good place.”
“I’m happy to see their growth,” he said. “They feel good, and we had a good week of practice. They are hitting it hard in the gym and hopefully we’ll keep it going.”
The Rivermen may be without their leading scorer Max Kaufman against Surrey. The 20-year-old native of Pittsford, NY, is dealing with a minor injury and his status is day-to-day, Henderson said.
Kaufman, who will be heading to the University of Vermont to play NCAA Div. 1 hockey next season, leads the Rivermen with 25 points and is tied with Ponak for the team lead in goals with 11.