The Langley Rivermen improved their pre-season record to 2-1 on Monday night in a convincing 7-4 win over the Coquitlam Express. The Rivermen coaching staff iced a very similar line-up that we saw on Saturday night against Surrey at Sportsplex. 11 ‘vets were dressed for Langley while Coquitlam put 8 out on the ice.
The first period of the game took a little while to get going as the feeling out process began early on. Both goaltenders Darren Hogg(Langley) and Daniel Urbani(Coquitlam) were fantastic making save after save in the first 20 minutes. Hogg’s first big test came four minutes in when he robbed Tyler Gonzales point-blank on a play that hurt my groin just watching it. After giving up a rebound, Hogg made a great desperation save stretching across his crease to rob the Coquitlam forward keeping it scoreless. Urbani’s biggest save came on Derek Sutliffe who was left open in the slot on a power play. Sutliffe took a great pass from Scott Moyer from behind the net and looked like he had Urbani beat, but not so fast said the young netminder who stayed with the play to make a big save.
The second frame was the most entertaining of the three by far. The Express opened the scoring just over a minute into the period courtesy of a goal from 16-year-old Luca Leone. However, the lead did not last long as the Rivermen trio of Robinson, Tracy, and Butcher had a great shift after a goal. Tracy did a good job of holding the puck along the boards down low, knocking it loose to Ben Butcher. Butcher then took the puck to the high slot and fired it on goal for a rebound, which Robinson gobbled up to knock in for his first of the pre-season. Just over a minute later, the ‘Men got their first lead of the game thanks to Trevor Cope. The Michigan native took a beautiful pass from Austin Azurdia at centre ice which sprung him on a breakaway and he made no mistake ripping a shot top shelf on the blocker side. The back and forth play continued as the Express found the equalizer at the 6:33 mark of the period on a goal from Brady Shaw. Shaw fired a shot off the blocker of Hogg, that then pin-balled off a couple of bodies in front of the crease and eventually found its way in the back of the net. In the dying minutes of the middle period, the top line of Puskarich,McLain, and Reichert went to work scoring the next two goals back to back on a pair of power plays. Reichert knocked in the third Rivermen goal of the period as he whacked the puck out of mid-air off a Mitch McLain shot at the side of the net. McLain then scored with just 43 seconds left as he made no mistake on a play set up by Puskarich from behind the goal. Puskarich did all the work fending off a couple of Express penalty killer’s down low leaving McLain wide open at the side of the net and he made no mistake placing a perfect one-time snap shot in the top half of the net.
With a 4-2 lead entering the final period, the Rivermen picked up right where they left off offensively. Former member of the Express, Evan Campbell got on the board on a perfect shot to the top right corner off a nice feed from Ben Greiner. Give credit to the Express as they did not roll over as they got that goal right back. Sam Majka drove the net hard and flicked in a loose rebound past Hogg to make it a 5-3 score. Shortly after the tally, we saw the game’s first fight and that was between Azurdia and Hoffard. After a whistle the two got into it with one another and after a few punches were exchanged, Hoffard scored the take down. That scrap seemed to spark Mitch Mclain as the Brainerd High alum, buried his second on the night, which was a laser like wrist shot to the top left corner past Urbani with 8:50 left in the game. Trevor Cope and Jace Hennig traded goals in the last-minute of the contest to close things out, as the Rivermen were able to skate away with a 7-4 victory.
Overall the game was fast and physical throughout 60 minutes. . These two teams do not like each other one bit and has all the makings of becoming a great rivalry in the BCHL. Both coaches have got to be impressed with what they saw on the ice tonight as the tough decisions of narrowing down their rosters to 21 will continue.
The Rivermen will have no time to rest as the team heads to Merritt tomorrow to take on the Centennials at 7PM. The game can be seen live on Fasthockey PPV!
GOALS: McLain: 2, Cope:2, Reichert:1, Campbell 1, Robinson:1
ASSISTS: Reichert: 2, Puskarich :2, McLain: 1, Azurdia: 1, Tracy: 1, Butcher: 1, Pellah: 1, Greiner: 1
GOALS: Leone: 1, Shaw: 1, Hennig: 1
ASSISTS: Pryzbek: 2, Siemer: 1, Nardi: 1, Gordon: 1, Finkelstein: 1