In the last tune up before the Showcase on Friday, the Langley Rivermen welcomed the Wenatchee Wild to the Aldergrove Arena on Sunday night. The Rivermen last played on Tuesday in Merritt, while the Wild were in Penticton last night. Coming into the game, the ‘Men had just one more decision to make before the team could become finalized.
The Wild showed no signs of fatigue early on as they got out to the early lead on a power play goal from Jacob Barber. In the dying seconds of the period when it looked like the Wild were going to take a 1 goal lead after 20 minutes, Mario Puskarich had other plans. In the midst of a Wenatchee line change, new defenseman Tyler Vanscourt put a perfect pass on the tape of Puskarich, who with one second left on the clock rifled home a snap shot to the top right corner. I have to say I have been very impressed of what Puskarich has shown throughout the entire pre-season. He looks quicker, stronger, and is playing more physical each and every game and if you are a scout you are definitely taking notice of this kid.
The second period was not the most exciting frame as it was scoreless, but the referee did hand out three power plays for each squad. Both goaltenders (James Barr-Langley, Jordan Kaufer-Wenatchee) did not see a lot of action facing a combined total of 10 shots.
The goals started to come fast and furious in the final period, but unfortunately for Langley it was coming against them. The Wild were able to score two quick goals to open up the third period including one on the power play to open up a 3-1 lead with not even two minutes gone by. Ben Greiner was able to cut the lead to one on a long wrist shot from the blue line with under nine minutes to play, but that was as close the Rivermen would come in what would turn into a 3-2 final in favour of Wenatchee.
By the time it was all said and done the Rivermen finished with an exhibition record of 2-2-1. Overall I really liked what I have seen from this year’s edition of the Rivermen. The team looks to have more speed, skill, grit, and experience compared to last year and I really believe they will surprise people around the league this season. Only four more days until the showcase when the puck drops for real!
Langley: GOALS: Puskarich, Greiner…ASSISTS: Vanscourt, Robinson
Wenatchee: GOALS: Barber, Diver, O’Borksky…ASSISTS: Davis, Flynn, D.Kuchera, Kerr, N.Kuchera
Power plays: Langley 0/6, Wenatchee 2/7
Shots: Wenatchee 25, Langley 15