The Rivermen will look to turn the ship (or ferry) around with yet another Island road swing starting tonight in Alberni Valley. Things are not going as planned for the team right now as they have lost their last four games entering tonight and have won just two out of their last seven overall. However, today is a new day and a new month and with Coquitlam and Prince George losing last night the ‘Men still are within striking distance and have some key games in hand. With regards to the Bulldogs, they are right in the hunt for first place in the Island division and have won seven out of 10 games in the month of November and are coming off a 3-2 win at home against Cowichan Valley last night.
If there is one team in the BCHL who the Rivermen have their number it would be the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. In the two games played this season the Rivermen won by scores of 7-3 and 7-0. However, both of those games were in September and the two teams look totally different right now compared to when they played last. In fact Bobby Henderson and Kevin Willison have been trade partners twice this season. The first trade took everybody by surprise as the Rivermen shipped talented defenseman Bo Pellah for Evan Anderson and Turner Popoff back in early November. It is still way too early to say who won the deal but it seems to be working out for both teams as Anderson has two goals in six games and Popoff has one assist in eight games with the Rivermen. Pellah has one goal and five assists in eight games with the ‘Dogs. The most recent trade happened on Thursday when the Rivermen picked up Nathan Craft for future considerations. Craft has had a stellar rookie season so far with 10 points in 24 games and I particularly remember him playing on the top line with Evan Tironese and Ryan Lough when the ‘Men and ‘Dogs played this year. It is pretty neat that his first game in a Rivermen sweater will be against his former club.
Langley: 5th place in Mainland– Wins: 9 Losses: 11 Tie: 0 OTL: 4 Points: 22 GF: 74 GA: 84
Alberni Valley: 2nd place in Island– Wins: 14 Losses: 10 Tie: 0 OTL: 4 Points: 32 GF: 92 GA: 101
Langley: PP- 14th place- 18/109= 16.51%, PK- 4th place- 22/122= 81.97%
Alberni Valley: PP- 8th place- 26/133= 19.55%, PK- 11th place- 29/136= 78.68%
WHO TO WATCH FOR:
Langley: Nathan Craft. There were a few others to pick from, but I figure it will be a pretty special night for Craft who will be waiting for his new teammates at the ‘Dog Pound when they arrive at 5 o’clock. I am sure it will be an easy game for him to get up for as he hopes to prove something to his old team. It is yet to be determined where exactly he will be playing, but the coaches will give the youngster an opportunity to shine. Expect him to wear #21 tonight, which is the same number he wore in AV. Plus he has a great twitter handle. Give the new guy a follow @gettingcrafty21.
Alberni Valley Bulldogs: Bo Pellah. It will be weird for Rivermen fans to see him donning Bulldogs colours, but the 17 year-old, like Craft, will be looking to get a win against his former team. Pellah is always dangerous when he takes to the ice and can be the difference maker in a game. Always be aware when #25 is out there.
If there is one area that the Rivermen have to get going it would be special teams. In the last four games the power play is 1/19, while the penalty kill has allowed eight goals on 24 opportunities. The BCHL is a special team’s league and if you have an off night in that department almost most of the time you will not win the game. Entering tonight’s game the Rivermen are five points back of Coquitlam for fourth place and have two games in hand on them. If the team wants any chance of a playoff spot, their road record must improve. It will be a very hostile environment at the ‘Pound tonight as the Alberni Valley faithful always bring noise and enthusiasm to the rink. It will be extra ‘rockin tonight as it is the teddy bear toss night. It will be a 7:00 PM puck drop from the Weyerhaeuser arena and can be seen live at www.fasthockey.com or free audio is at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/langley-rivermen-hockey.